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Mammillaria spinosissima (Red-Headed Irishman)


Scientific Name

Mammillaria spinosissima Lem.

Common Names

Red-Headed Irishman, Irish Red-Head


Mammillaria spinosissima subsp. spinosissima, Mammillaria auricoma, Mammillaria pitcayensis, Mammillaria pilcayensis, Mammillaria centraliplumosa, Mammillaria haasii, Mammillaria gasterantha, Mammillaria crassior, Mammillaria virginis

Scientific Classification

Family: Cactaceae
Subfamily: Cactoideae
Tribe: Cacteae
Subtribe: Cactinae
Genus: Mammillaria


Mammillaria spinosissima is a cactus with cylindrical, dark blue-green stem, up to 12 inches (30 cm) tall and up to 4 inches (10 cm) in diameter, almost hidden under a dense covering of spines. Flowers from the upper part of the plant in a ring shape around the apex, purplish or deep-pink, up to 0.8 inch (2 cm) long and up to 0.6 inch (1.5 cm in diameter.

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How to Grow and Care

To encourage better flowering, allow the plants to enjoy a cooling period in the winter and suspend watering. Unlike many other cacti, which use their ribs as storage devices, the Mammillaria feature raised tubercles, from which spines emerge. When you water, the tubercles will expand to allow for increased water storage. The flowers emerge from the axils of these tubercles on the previous year’s growth, which accounts for their interesting halo effect. It’s imperative that the cactus is not exposed to prolonged dampness and sitting water. Never let your cactus sit in a dish of water. Lastly, make sure to fertilizer during the growing season for the best results.

Repot as needed, preferably during the warm season. To repot a cacti, make sure the soil is dry before repotting, then gently remove the pot. Knock away the old soil from the roots, making sure to remove any rotted or dead roots in the process… – See more at: How to Grow and Care for Mammillaria.


Endemic to Mexico.


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