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Escobaria vivipara (Spinystar)


Scientific Name

Escobaria vivipara (Nutt.) Buxb.

Common Names

Spinystar, Pincushion Cactus, Viviparous Foxtail Cactus, Beehive Cactus


Cactus viviparus, Coryphantha vivipara

Scientific Classification

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


Escobaria vivipara is a small cactus with ball-shaped or cylindrical stems densely covered in a mat of star-shaped arrays of straight, up to 1 inch (2.5 cm) long, white spines. The stems grow up to 6 inches (15 cm) tall and up to 3 inches (7.5 cm) in diameter. Flowers are yellow, pink, or purple and up to 2 inches (5 cm) in diameter.


USDA hardiness zones 4a to 10b: from -30 °F (-34.4 °C) to 40 °F (+4.4 °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 (30-50%). 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, perceive a significant temperature difference between night and day. The average winter minimum temperature, in general, should not fall below 42 to 46 °F (6 to 8 °C) unless individual exceptions; adult plants can withstand frosts also very intense, but only if the temperature rises again quickly.

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. In fact, other methods of propagation are preferable, as offsets or cuttings. See more at How to Grow and Care for Escobaria.


Native to North America, where certain varieties can be found from Mexico to Canada.


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