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Pelecyphora strobiliformis (Pinecone Cactus)


Scientific Name

Pelecyphora strobiliformis (Werderm.) Frič & Schelle ex Kreutz

Common Names

Pinecone Cactus


Ariocarpus strobiliformis (basionym), Encephalocarpus strobiliformis

Scientific Classification

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


Pelecyphora strobiliformis is a slow-growing geophytic cactus with solitary or multiple stems barely rising above ground level. The stems are spherical to flattened globose, greenish to yellowish-green, up to 1.6 inches (4 cm) tall, and up to 2.4 inches (6 cm) in diameter. The tubercles are scale-like, imbricated, spirally arranged, and overlapping. The base is woolly. While the new growth continues, the areoles produce a few short, more or less pectinate spines. With age, the areoles disappear, and the oldest tubercles have a bare, blunter apex. The flowers are borne at the base of young tubercles near the top of the plant. They are diurnal, bell-shaped or funnel-shaped, up to 1.2 inches (3 cm) long, brilliant pink to reddish-purple with greenish outer segments and incised or curly inner segments.

Pelecyphora strobiliformis (Pinecone Cactus)

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USDA hardiness zones 9b to 10b: from 25 °F (−3.9 °C) to 40 °F (+4.4 °C).

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, 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. The cactus mustn't be exposed to prolonged dampness and sitting water. Never let your cactus sit in a dish of water. Lastly, make sure to fertilize during the growing season for the best results.

Repot as needed, preferably during the warm season. To repot Mammillaria, 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. Treat any cuts with a fungicide. Place the plant in its new pot and backfill with potting soil, spreading the roots out as you repot. Leave the plant dry for a week or so, then begin to water lightly to reduce the risk of root rot.

Learn more at How to Grow and Care for Mammillaria.


Pelecyphora strobiliformis is native to Mexico.


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