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Turbinicarpus subterraneus


Scientific Name

Turbinicarpus subterraneus (Backeb.) A. D. Zimm.


Echinocactus subterraneus (basionym), Gymnocactus subterraneus, Neolloydia subterranea, Rapicactus subterraneus, Thelocactus subterraneus

Scientific Classification

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


Turbinicarpus subterraneus is one of the most fascinating and unusual cacti. Usually solitary, club-shaped cactus, up to 6 inches (15 cm) tall, up to 1.2 inches (3 cm) in diameter and green-bluish in color. The stem is typically prostrate, flaring out after a very long slender neck that separates the large tuberose root from the enlarged apical part of the plant. The flowers are whitish to pinkish-magenta, with pink or brown midstripe, up to 1 inch (2.5 cm) long and up to 1.2 inches (3 cm) in diameter. The fruits are greenish-brown, small, relatively dry, and  unattractive.

How to Grow and Care

Turbinicarpus prefer to be in a well ventilated position in full sun to maintain a good body color and spinal development. The golden rule when it comes to watering Turbinicarpus species is “never water when the compost is still damp”. This is the one error that will certainly kill any plant! Watering should commence in the spring late March to early April depending upon the weather conditions at the time. The plants should initially be given a light spray to gently encourage them into growth.

Turbinicarpus species are all able to withstand high summer temperatures and indeed benefit, providing accompanied by good ventilation. Do not be tempted to overcrowd the plants, they will be far happier with a little space to allow the air to circulate. Winter temperatures can be set as low at 44-46 °F (7-8 °C) and providing the plants are kept dry and the humidity levels are also kept low, by good ventilation on bright days… – See more at: How to Grow and Care for Turbinicarpus.


It is endemic to Mexico. Its natural habitat is hot deserts.


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