ISI 2005-4. Mammillaria mammillaris (L) Karst

This species bears the distinction of being the first member of its genus to be described, albeit as Cactus mammillaris by Linnaeus in 1753 in his seminal Species Plantarum, the work credited with initiating the binomial system of nomenclature. Haworth named it M. simplex when he described the genus Mammillaria in 1812. It was not until 1882 that Karsten published the current combination recognizing the epithet first applied by Linnaeus as the one with priority.

Not nearly as common in cultivation as the related M. nivosa, it is also a tropical species native to the islands of the Caribbean but also to mainland Venezuela. As such, it appreciates warm, frost-free conditions in which it will readily produce its small white flowers. It does not produce as much axillary wool as M. nivosa, but it is similarly self-fertile—the red berries provide long-lasting ornament to the simple globular, tuberculate stems. We offer plants, HBG 91541, from successive generations of Germán Carnevali s.n., collected in the early 1990s, between 200 and 400 m elevation, along the road between Cata and Cuyagua, Aragua, Venezuela. $5.

Photo © 2005 by John N. Trager. Images may not be used elsewhere without permission.

Published in the Cactus and Succulent Journal, Vol. 77 (2), March - April, 2005