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Maihueniopsis clavarioides (Dead Man's Fingers)


Scientific Name

Maihueniopsis clavarioides (Pfeiff.) E.F. Anderson

Common Names

Dead Man's Fingers, Mushroom Opuntia


Opuntia clavarioides (basionym), Austrocylindropuntia clavarioides, Cylindropuntia clavarioides, Puna clavarioides

Scientific Classification

Family: Cactaceae
Subfamily: Opuntioideae
Tribe: Tephrocacteae
Genus: Maihueniopsis


Maihueniopsis clavarioides is a low-growing cactus with short, grayish to dark brownish stem joints. It grows up to 6 inches (15 cm) tall. The stem joints are cylindrical to obconical, up to 2 inches (5 cm) long, and up to 0.6 inches (1.5 cm) in diameter. The typical form has distinctive conical segments, but monstrous forms with fan-shaped or finger-like stems are widely seen in cultivation. Sometimes all 3 of these stem forms may be seen on a single plant. The spines are small and white. The flowers are yellow-green to olive-green and up to 1.6 inches (4 cm) in diameter.

Maihueniopsis clavarioides (Dead Man's Fingers)

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USDA hardiness zones 9b to 11b: from 25 °F (−3.9 °C) to 50 °F (+10 °C).

How to Grow and Care

Though the large variety of species within the Opuntia genus means different types of Prickly Pears may need slightly different care. All are desert cacti that need lots of sun, lots of light, and very little water. If you live in a hot, arid area, these plants can generally be planted outside, left alone, and enjoyed.

These cacti will grow just fine in a garden, but they can be grown in pots as well. To repot, ensure the soil is dry, then remove the pot and knock away the old soil. After treating any cuts with fungicide, place the cactus in a new pot and backfill it with potting soil. As with a new cutting, make sure not to water a newly repotting Prickly Pear for a brief period to avoid rotting its roots.

Opuntia can propagate either by cuttings or by seed. To propagate by cuttings, sever pads from a plant and let them dry so that the wounds heal. Then place the plants in dry soil and refrain from watering them until they begin to grow to avoid rotting them. See more at How to Grow and Care for Opuntia.


Maihueniopsis clavarioides is native to the provinces of Mendoza and San Juan in Argentina.



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