This columnar Mammillaria is popular with collectors because of its radial spines, which look like little starbursts, and its central spines, which are almost black. Another thing I like--the little lumps that form on the stems that will grow to become additional stems.
In some M. microhelia, the radial spines can be a golden color and the central spines reddish. The spine colors can change as the cactus gets older, sometimes for the better, sometimes not. You never know until they change. The M. microhelia has tiny, pale yellow flowers that form a ring around the stems. The flowering period here is about mid-April.
This native of Mexico is a bit prone to rot, so I keep my three in shallow pots in partial shade. Even with the tendency to rot, regular watering is necessary in summer. The M. microhelia just doesn’t like long periods of wetness.
M. Microhelia is one of the cacti that looks great when young, but as it ages, the stems become woody looking around the base. Unlike many cactus specimens that are kept for years, this is one that’s best replaced after several years, unless bald, ugly stem bases aren’t esthetically displeasing.