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  Mammillaria grahamii
(Syn: Mammillaria microcarpa)

Cultivation and Mail Sale
of Cacti and Succulents.

Mammillaria grahamii ( SB 218 Samalayuca, Chihuahua, USA )
A reliable bloomer, it has an attractive form even when not blooming.

Description: Plants are solitary or budding either basally or near the middle, often cespitose, but in small clusters (but sometime they can form clusters of many individuals). This species is quite common in habitat, but variable throughout the region.
Stems: Globose to short cylindrical, light green, 7 - 15 cm or more in height, 7.5 - 11 cm in diameter.
Roots: Thickened.
Sap: Without latex.
Tubercle: Ovoid to cylindrical, often four-angled, corky when old .
Axil: Naked.
Radial spine: 20 - 35, straight, glabrous, needle-like, interlacing, so
dense that it is difficult to see the stem body underneath, white to greyish to light brown to reddish, 6 - 12 mm long, lateral ones longest.
Central spine: 1 - 4, yellowish brown to (
often) dark brown, 12 - 25 mm long, the longest one usually hooked.
Flower: The flower is large for the genus, broadly funnel-form, pink to lavender pink to reddish purple, sometimes white with a deeper central stripe, 20 - 45 mm in diameter. Tepals, obovate, acuminate, stile longer than stamens, purplish, stigma lobes 7-8, linear, green.
grow just below the top of the cactus and sometimes form perfect, crown-like rings. The number of flowers produced by an individual plant depends largely on plant volume.
Blooming season (Europe): Flowers in the early summer and a plant can produce two or three batches of flowers. Individual flowers normally live one day, but can open a second day when pollination is inadequate.

Fruit: Clavate, slightly fleshy, bright red, 12 - 25 mm long.
Seed: Black, shining, pitted, globose 0,8-1 mm in diameter.



Family: Cactaceae (Cactus Family)

Scientific name:  Mammillaria grahamii Engelmann
In: Proc. Amer. Acad. 3: 262 (1856)

Origin: California, Arizona, New Mexico and Texas, USA; Sonora, Sinaloa and Chihuahua, Mexico. 

Habitat: These small cacti is found in desert mountains, sandy or rocky canyons, washes and plains on igneous or limestone substrate. They grow in sparse woodland, among desert creosote shrub or in grassland, and it is very easy to overlook them, except when they are blooming. They bloom about five days after the first summer rains of the monsoon.  This plants uses nurse plants to protect against frosts, harsh sun, trampling, etc. so one must look carefully under shrubs and trees to find them. Altitude 200 -1.550 m.

Conservation status: Listed in CITES appendix 2.

Common Names include: Graham's Nipple Cactus, Pincushion Cactus, Arizona Fishhook, Pitahayita, Choyita, Black-spined Pincushion, Cabeza de Viejo, Fishhook Pincushion, Miller's Pincushion, Olive's Pincushion, Sunset Cactus.

Etymology: Named after Colonel James Duncan Graham (1799-1851), Topographical engineer, and surveyor with the eastern portion of the U.S.-Mexican border survey. Mount Graham in Arizona was named after him.

  • Chilita grahamii (Engelmann) Orcutt 1926
  • Mammillaria microcarpa ssp. grahamii (Engelmann) Mottram 1991 (Not validly published)
  • Mammillaria microcarpa Engelmann 1848 (Not validly published)
  • Chilita microcarpa (Engelmann) Orcutt 1926
  • Ebnerella microcarpa (Engelmann) Buxbaum 1951
  • Mammillaria oliviae Orcutt 1903
  • Chilita oliviae (Orcutt) Orcutt 1926
  • Ebnerella oliviae (Orcutt) Bauxbaum 1951
  • Neomammilaria millerii Britton & Rose 1923
  • Chilita millerii (Britton & Rose) Orcutt 1926
  • Mammillaria millerii (Britton & Rose) Boedeker 1933

The degree of difference between Mammillaria grahamii and Mammillaria microcarpa is still a matter for debate.


Cultivation: This plant is not famous for being easy to cultivate, but in good conditions with excellent ventilation, it grows without difficulty.  It is especially sensitive to over-watering.  So careful watering and an open mineral potting soil are a must.  Avoid the use of peat or other humus sources in the potting mixture.  Don't add limestone to the potting mix, which must be moderately acidic.  It can be sensitive to frost (but some population are resistant to -10 C). It requires maximum sun exposure to reach its full potential, and  to achieve success in flowering.  A winter rest that allows the plant to shrivel (perhaps losing up to 25% of its summer height) will encourage flowering and long time survival.  Be careful to encourage slow growth.

Propagation: Seeds or offsets.

Traditional uses

  • Apache, Pima, Chiricahua & Mescaleros: They used the fresh and dried fruit primarily for children, as a snack food..
  • Pima: They used the boiled plant placed warm in the ear for earaches and suppurating ears.
  • Seri And Pima also used it in special ceremonies by shamans.  Fruits are also said to produce hallucinatory effects.



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

Photo gallery MAMMILLARIA

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

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