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Melocactus matanzanus (Dwarf Turk's Cap Cactus)


Scientific Name

Melocactus matanzanus Léon

Common Names

Dwarf Turk's Cap Cactus, Turk's Cap Cactus


Melocactus actinacanthus

Scientific Classification

Family: Cactaceae
Subfamily: Cactoideae
Tribe: Cereeae
Genus: Melocactus


Melocactus matanzanus is a small cactus with a globose, bright green, usually solitary stem with rounded ribs and brownish-gray or white spines. It grows up to 3.6 inches (9 cm) tall with an equal diameter. The spines, one central and 7 to 8 radials per areole, are up to 2 inches (5 cm) long. This cactus is one of the smallest species that produce cephalium, a dense mass of areoles covered with white wool and reddish-brown bristles at the stem's tip. The cephalium is globose to shortly cylindrical, up to 3.6 inches (9 cm) tall and up to 2.4 inches (6 cm) in diameter, and will only begin growing after the plant has reached a certain age. Flowers are rose-pink to carmine, up to 2 inches (5 cm) long, and appear from the cephalium in mid-summer.

Melocactus matanzanus - Dwarf Turk's Cap Cactus

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USDA hardiness zone 10a to 11b: from 30 °F (−1.1 °C) to 30 °F (−1.1 °C).

How to Grow and Care

Melocactus are somewhat finicky cacti with unusual requirements. They shouldn't be allowed to completely dry out, even in winter, and they can suffer from soil composition, drainage, water level, sun, and more factors that are difficult to control. For that reason, these plants are best for growers who already have had some success cultivating cacti. Establish a balance with good aeration matched by ample water, good soil matched by good drainage, and these plants should continue to grow. If they're grown successfully, their unusual tops make them among the more beautiful of desert cacti.

Notably, Melocactus like to be fairly packed in, so keep them in a fairly small container that slightly constricts their roots. Repotting them at the beginning of the growing season is a good idea until they form cephalium, and the body stops growing, and they should be repotted like other cacti. See more at How to Grow and Care for Melocactus.


Native to the north of Cuba.


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