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Discocactus buenekeri
(Syn: Discocactus zehntneri)

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This is one of tiniest cactus which is a true miniature and one of the smallest species in the genus. It is a mature specimen, and itís only 4/5 cm high and wide. It wonít get any larger. Since it is mature, it puts all its energy into producing the little woolly top, or cephalium.

Description: Discocactus buenekeri (also considered just a form of D. zehntneri) is a globose-flattened tiny little plant that (in culture) grows in small groups just like D. boomianus..
Stem: Dull-green 10-20 in diameter and 7-10 cm tall.
Cephalium: Up to 1 cm tall and -4 cm wide, at the apex of the plant, creamy-white to light-brown with yellow to brownish bristles up to 2 cm.
The size of the cephalium on this specimen is often as large as the cactus body!
Ribs: About 20, somewhat spiralled, forming nipple-like tubercles to 1 cm high.
Areoles: Oval, sunken, ca. 8 per ribs.
Radial spines: Interlacing, densely covering the plant, 10 to15 up to 1-2 cm long, pectinate, flexible spines creamy white or whitish-yellow with dark tips, becoming pale-brown to whitish, recurved backwards, sitting on the plant like spiders.
Central spines: None.
Flowers: Cream-white, with heavenly scent, slender funnelform, up to 9 cm long. The position of the stigma is at the top of the stamens. The bud appears, grows and opens all within 24 hrs. Each flowering lasts only one night, but that night it produces many flowers.
Blooming season:
This species usually blooms in April, May, or June or as late as August.
Fruit: Club-shaped, white.


This plant is part of the D. zehentnari complex which comprises several variable subordinates taxa, but not all are universally recognized.  Some authorities recognize only the following :

subsp. zehntneri Usually globose and completely covered in white thin, needle-like spines, the flower is about 3 cm long and the fruit are red (Origin: Sentocť)
subsp. horstiorum = subp zehntneri (Origin:
near Minas do Mimosa, Moreno, Sierra do Espinahaco, Bahia )
subsp. boomianus Usually disk -shaped, with dark tipped yellowish spines, the flowers are up to 9 cm long (Origin: Sierra do Espinahaco)
subsp. buenekeri this species does share the complex commonality of tuberculate ribs and basal offsetting, but its white, club-shaped fruit does not fit with the dark red , much elongated and slender fruit of the other taxa.
subsp. araneispina
has flexible, interlacing spider-like spines that cover the plant.
subsp. albispina

Photo of conspecific taxa, varieties, forms and cultivars of Discocactus zehntneri.



Family: Cactaceae (Cactus Family)

Discocactus buenekeri W.R.Abraham 1987

Accepted Scientific name:  Discocactus zehntneri Britton & Rose 1922

Subfamily: Cactoideae tribe: Trichocereeae.

Origin: Bahia  Southern Brazil (South America)

Habitat: It is native to Brazilís tropical forests and grows on quartz substrates.

Conservation status: Listed in CITES appendix 1.These species are threatened with extinction.

Common English Names include: Squash Cactus, Moon cactus.

Synonyms (of Discocactus zehentneri):  
  • Discocactus zehntneri ssp. albispinus (Buining et Brederoo) P.J.Braun & Esteves 1995.
  • Discocactus zehntneri ssp. boomianus (Buining & Brederoo) N. P. Taylor & Zappi 1991
  • Discocactus zehntneri subsp. araneispinus (Buining et Brederoo) P.J.Braun & Esteves 1995.
  • Discocactus zehntneri ssp. horstiorum
  • Discocactus zehntneri var. horstiorum
  • Discocactus zehntneri ssp. buenekeri


The woolly cephalium is from where the flowers emerge, and the flowers can literally sneak up on you! They seem to pop up in just a few hours and bloom when the sun goes down. The flowers have a powerful gardenia-like scent that permeated the air.

Discocactus buenekeri  is one of the easiest species of the genus to grow, but even so it isn't a plants for beginners, in fact collectors consider the Discocactus  to be rarities with requires skilful cultivation. it is rather difficult to grow and frost tender, it canít stand cold, or even fairly cool temperatures and should be kept at above 15į C if grown on its own roots (8įC if grafted). Need full sun or afternoon shade. They are slow growing and very rot prone when kept on their own roots and though they canít endure long stretches of total dryness, too much water will rot them, as their weak root systems tend to be inefficient at sucking up water from wet soil. They generally resent being repotted and can take a long time to establish. When grown to maturity, however, it possess an exotic look shared by no other cacti, and it generally attract a lot of attention.

Propagation: Seed or cuttings. Young seedlings are generally grafted on a low stock to keep the plant in a good shape.


Photo gallery: Alphabetical listing of Cactus and Succulent pictures published in this site.

Photo gallery Discocactus

Home | E-mail | Plant files | Mail Sale Catalogue | Links | Information | Search

All the information and photos in cactus art file are now available also in the new the Enciclopedia of Cacti. We hope you find this new site informative and useful.