Thursday, August 16, 2007

Short and Plump Preferred

Mammillaria bocasana

The Mammillaria genus contains over 200 species, and to date, I’ve collected 21 of those. This is a Mammillaria bocasana, commonly known as the Powder Puff Cactus. As with most Mammillaria, it is native to Mexico. Most of the M. bocasana sold commercially are cultivars, bred to obtain the highest degree of fine white hairs and pronounced flower stripe. Some really do look like little powder puffs.

My specimen seems to have a problem. The nipples, which the Mammillaria genus has instead of ribs, are long and skinny. The nipples are the structures that hold the spines, and they are usually short and plump. Since the cactus stem is the proper shape, I really don’t think etiolation (abnormal lengthening caused by too little light) is the problem. Etiolation usually affects stem length, not the nipples. The skinny nipples could suggest too little water, but I use a water and light meter to care for my entire cactus collection. Since this species is one of the easiest to care for, I’m stumped by its condition.

I’ve moved the cactus to a brighter location and upped the water to see if that makes a difference. It continues to produce many flowers, so I don’t think this condition is fatal.

1 comment:

sisah said...

I have two species of a mammilaria, one of them is already over ten years old and it never troubled me,an easy cactus even after a winter on a window-sill in my sleeping room. My first thought when looking at your photo was also it might be etiolation, but I think in your part of the world there will be enough light for acactus ;-). Maybe you are feeding it too much, the soil is too nutritious?? But I am sure it will survive!