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Escobaria vivipara
(Syn: Coryphantha vivipara)


Cultivation and Mail Sale
of Cacti and Succulents.

Escobaria vivipara RP113 FT Union New Mexico

Description: Escobaria vivipara is a small solitary or clumping cactus.  Some varieties form colonies of over 200 stems. This species is the most widespread, abundant and variable member of the genus.  It is densely covered in a mat of star-shaped arrays of spines.
Stems: Usually more than 1/2 above ground (sometimes deep-seated and flat-topped in winter, in cold climates and/or in immaturity), spheric, ovoid, obovoid, or cylindric with age, 2.5-75 3-11 cm tall;
Tubercles: Grooved, 8-25 3-8 mm, stiff or flaccid; areolar glands absent.
Roots:   diffuse, less than 1/4 of stem diameter.
Spines: 11-55 per areole; either bright white, ashy white, pale tan, pale pinkish gray, or reddish brown (rarely stramineous), tips dark bright pinkish brown, reddish brown, dark brown, orange-brown, or pinkish orange, purplish gray, pinkish gray, brownish red, sepia dark purplish brown, or stramineous, opaque or vitreous, fading, then blackening with age (dark tips rarely absent).
Radial spines: 10-40 per areole, weakly appressed or tightly appressed, pectinately arranged in subadults of some populations, 7-22 mm long.  Subcentral spines are sometimes present.
Central spines: Straight; outer central spines 3-14 per areole; appressed or strongly projecting, in "birds-foot" arrangement or radiating like spokes, longest spines 9-25 mm.
Flowers: Subapical, 20-65(-90?) mm long; outer tepals conspicuously fringed; pale rose-pink to reddish pink or magenta (or rarely yellow or green) , sometimes with darker midstripes, sometimes shading to white or pale green,
Fruits: Green, exposed portions slowly turning dull brownish red, ovoid to obovoid, 12-28 7-20 mm, juicy; floral remnant persistent.
Seeds: bright reddish brown, comma-shaped or nearly obovoid, (1-)1.3-2.4(-3) mm.
Flowering season: Spring-late summer; fruiting 2-5 months after flowering.




Poignant reminder - ID: 2023189  Irwin  Lightstone
Photo & copyright by Irwin Lightstone Images may not be copied, downloaded, or used in any way without the expressed, written permission of the photographer.

Escobaria vivipara
SB383 Howard County, Texas, USA

Notes: The showy flowers of Escobaria vivipara are virtually identical to those of Coryphantha macromeris and Mammillaria wrightii; in the absence of vegetative material, flowers may be unidentifiable.  Some unrelated species, such as Coryphantha echinus, vegetatively resemble.


Cultivation: It comes from an area of summer rainfall.  Keep drier in winter (but for outdoor cultivation it is very resistant to wet conditions, too). It needs good drainage. Very cold resistant, but the frost resistance varies a lot from clone to clone. It can easily be grown outdoors in areas with  minimum winter temperatures of -15 -25 (but northern populations from Canada are resistant to -35 -45C).  It needs full sun to light shade.

Propagation: Seeds (no dormancy requirement, they germinate best at  25C) or by offsets (if available), or occasionally grafted.

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

Photo gallery ESCOBARIA



Family: Cactaceae (Cactus Family)

Scientific name:  Escobaria vivipara (Britton & Rose)
In N. L. Britton and A. Brown  Ill. Fl. N. U.S., ed. 2. 2: 571. 1913.

Origin:   Large parts of USA (Ariz., Calif., Colo., Kans., Minn., Mont., Nebr., Nev., N.Mex., N.Dak., Okla., S.Dak., Tex., Utah, Wyo) Canada (Alta., Man., Sask.). Mexico (Chihuahua, Coahuila, Sonora).
Reports of it from Oregon, Idaho, and northern Utah are incorrect

Habitat: Desert scrub to conifer forest, mostly low hills or mountain tops, diverse substrates; 200-2700 m.

Conservation status: Listed in CITES appendix 2.

Common Names include: Beehive Cactus, Spinystar, Pincushion cactus, and viviparous foxtail cactus.


  • Escobaria vivipara ( Basionym: Cactus viviparus Nuttall, Cat. Pl. Upper Louisiana, no. 22. 1813, Mammillaria vivipara,Echinocactus viviparus,
  • Escobaria neo-mexicana (Coryphantha vivipara var. neo-mexicana, Cactus radiosus var. neo-mexicanus,  Mammillaria radiosa var. neo-mexicana, Coryphantha radiosa var. neo-mexicana, Cactus neo-mexicanus, Mammillaria vivipara var. neo-mexicana, Mammillaria neo-mexicana, Escobaria vivipara var. neo-mexicana, Coryphantha neo-mexicana,)
  • Escobaria vivipara var. radiosa (Escobaria radiosa, Neomammillaria radiosa,  Mammillaria radiosa, , Coryphantha radiosa, Coryphantha vivipara var. radiosa,Cactus radiosus, Echinocactus radiosus, Mammillaria vivipara var. radiosa)
  • Escobaria vivipara var. rosea (Coryphantha rosea, Coryphantha vivipara var. rosea, Coryphantha vivipara var. kaibabensis,
  • Escobaria vivipara var. arizonica (Engelmann) W. T. Marshall
    (Mammillaria arizonica, Mammillaria vivipara var. arizonica, Coryphantha vivipara var. arizonica, Mammillaria radiosa var. arizonica, Escobaria arizonica, Coryphantha arizonica, Cactus radiosus var. arizonicus )
  • Escobaria vivipara var. kaibabensis (C. vivipara var. kaibabensis)
  • Escobaria vivipara var. fragrans (Coryphantha fragrans)
  • Escobaria vivipara var. bisbeeana (Coryphantha bisbeeana, Escobaria bisbeeana, Coryphantha vivipara var. bisbeeana)
  • Escobaria vivipara var. buoflama  (Coryphantha vivipara var. buoflama)
  • Escobaria vivipara var. columnaris (Coryphantha columnaris)
  • Escobaria vivipara var. marstonii (Coryphantha missouriensis var. marstonii)
  • Escobaria vivipara var. oklahomensis (Coryphantha oklahomensis)


There are a number of varieties of this highly variable cactus species, but not all are universally recognized. Some authorities recognize the following varieties:

  • E. vivipara var. arizonica (Arizona spinystar) - native to the desert southwest of the United States
  • E. vivipara var. bisbeeana (Bisbee spinystar) - native to Arizona and New Mexico
  • E. vivipara var. deserti (desert spinystar) - found in the desert southwest
  • E. vivipara var. kaibabensis (Kaibab spinystar) - mostly limited to Arizona
  • E. vivipara var. neomexicana (New Mexico spinystar) - native to New Mexico and Texas
  • E. vivipara var. vivipara - known as far north as Manitoba

and also:

  • E. vivipara var. radiosa
  • E. vivipara var. rosea


Photo of conspecific taxa, varieties, forms and cultivars of Escobaria vivipara.

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.