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Escobaria minima (Nellie Cory Cactus)


Scientific Name

Escobaria minima (Baird) D. R. Hunt

Common Names

Nellie Cory Cactus, Nellie's Pincushion Cactus, Birdfoot Cactus, Dwarf Cory Cactus, Least Cory Cactus


Coryphantha minima, Coryphantha nellieae, Escobaria nellieae, Mammillaria nellieae

Scientific Classification

Family: Cactaceae
Subfamily: Cactoideae
Tribe: Cacteae
Genus: Escobaria


Escobaria minima is a small cactus with rounded stems that grow up to 1 inch (2.5 cm) tall and up to 0.7 inches (1.8 cm) in diameter. The stems are crowded with thick and corky white spines. Flowers are pink, up to 1 inch (2.5 cm) in diameter and 0.6 inches (1.6 cm) long. It blooms in several flushes, primarily in mid-spring. Fruits are green, egg-shaped, and up to 2 inches (5 cm) long.


USDA hardiness zones 9a to 11b: from 20 °F (−6.7 °C) to 50 °F (+10 °C).

How to Grow and Care

Escobarias are very susceptible to rot and therefore require well-drained soil without any water excess or stagnation. It has been observed that the plants also suffer the environmental humidity, which should preferably remain very low (30 to 50 %). Avoid watering during the winter, when the plant is dormant. Watering Escobaria in cold environmental conditions will almost certainly lead to the death of the plant. In the growing season, the plants, whose growth is typically quite slow, like to perceive a significant temperature difference between night and day.

The experienced grower knows well the difficulties of survival of this genus, certainly not one of the easiest to grow. The seed germination rate is lower than other genera, and in fact, other propagation methods are preferable, as offsets or cuttings.

Learn more at How to Grow and Care for Escobaria.


It is found only in Brewster County, Texas, in the United States, where three populations are remaining near Marathon.


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