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Mammillaria perbella
(Syn: Mammillaria pseudoperbella)


Cultivation and Mail Sale
of Cacti and Succulents.

After several years  the old plants divide at their apex, ramifying dichotomously  (to form two or more distinct joints) and in 10 years they forms small colony. It is a pleasing sight, even in the depths of winter.




Its symmetrical globose body is largely obscured by the fairly numerous interlacing white radial spines, against which the two short black centrals stand out.



Family: Cactaceae (Cactus Family)

Scientific Name: Mammillaria perbella Hildmann ex K. Schumann - Published in: Gesamtbeschr. Kakt. 567. 1898 (as Mamillaria)

Origin: Central Mexico (This species has a fairly large area of distribution in Mexico: from the state of Querétaro across central Mexico to the state of Oaxaca on the Pacific coast. )

Habitat: Between rocks in humus soil on the limestone slopes. Altitude 1500-2800 m.

Conservation status: Listed in CITES appendix 2.


  • Mammillaria pseudoperbella
    First description by Quehl; Monatschrift für kakteenkunde 19: 188, (1909).
  • Neomammillaria pseudoperbella (Quehl) Britt. & Rose
    Cactaceae 4: 109. 1923.
  • Mammillaria pseudoperbella rufispina Quehl
    Monatsschr. Kakteenk. 26: 94. 1916.
  • Mammillaria perbella fma. pseudoperbella
  • Mammillaria cadereytensis R. T. Craig 1945
  • Mammillaria infernillensis R. T. Craig 1945
  • Mammillaria queretarica R. T. Craig 1945
  • Mammillaria avila-camachoi Shurly 1961
  • Mammillaria vonwyssiana Krainz 1945 a

Related to Mammillaria microthele.

Mammillaria aljibensis
is probably a synonym.


Simple or dichotomicously branched (occasionally ramifies , producing a few basal shoots) with short dense spines.
Stem: Symmetrically globose at first, later cylindric, with a depressed apex that appears completely white. 50 - 200 mm high and 50 - 80 mm in diameter, dull green and may, with age, become suberized at its base.
Tubercles: Short cylindric/conical firm, 6 - 7 mm long and 2 mm wide, arranged in numerous, very close-set spirals. The Axil is naked or with a little bit wool and bristles.
Roots: Fibrous.
Radial spine: 20 - 30, short, 1 - 3 mm long,  somewhat horizontal radiating and arranged laterally on each side of the tubercle, white.
Central spine:  0-1 or usually 2 (but some plant have 4), divergent, one pointing upwards and often  longer (up to 5 mm long), the other turned backward, 1-3 mm long, awl-shaped, straight, smooth, thicker at base, they are both brownish with a darker tip.
Flower: Small, funnelform, 10 - 12 mm long and in diameter, purplish pink with darker midstripe. The perianth-segments are narrow-oblong, with an ovate acute tip; the style is longer than the filaments, pinkish; the stigma-lobes are 3, obtuse.
Fruit: Attractively deep dull pinkish-red coloured .Club-shaped, 10 - 15 mm long and 2 - 3 mm wide. Ripens 7 months after flowering. Selfsterile.
Seed: Brown, club-shaped, 1 mm long and 0,8 mm wide. Hilum small and sub-basal.

Spring to summer  brings the purple-pink flowers and it is then a joy to behold.

NOTE: There  are  actually in cultivation  several forms of this controversial species.
The one labelled  M. pseudoperbella  (= Mammillaria perbella lanata?) have usually carmine pink flowers with darker midstripe usually in several complete rings in April-may, with 20-30 setaceous radial spines and abundant axillary wool, while the  one identified as M. perbella have sparse purplish pink flowers opening most of the summer with fewer stouter and shorter radial spines. But this division  is arbitrary and it is almost impossible to discern the two  plant  and the many intermediate forms  .

This is one of the Mammillaria commonly called "Owl Eye Cactus", known for dichotomous branching (forking or dividing into two parts). Although dichotomous branching is not a common occurrence in cacti in general, it happens for some reason in this particular subspecies.  What is interesting about this cactus is that it began as a single head, and it has now divided twice, forming what will be four separate branches. When the division process started, it was obvious that four heads would appear, but I don’t think the one head divided quadruply. Most probably, one head became two, and then those two immediately divided.
Other Owl Eye Cactus among others comprise: M. karwnskiana, M. formosa,  M. tlalocii and M. microthele.

This plant is easy to cultivate but very slow growing. Cultivate it in a well drained and mineral substratum. Water regularly, avoid the use of peat or other humus sources in the potting mixture. It need full sun, so it keep a compact and flat shape. It does not tolerate intense cold, but tolerates some cold if kept dry. Frequent transplantations of the young plants protect the lower part of the stem from the  lignification, to which the plant has a tendency.
 It is propagated by seed. Sometimes old plants divide at their apex, ramifying dichotomously - to form two or more distinct joints - but the removal of one of these joints may prove fatal to the plant.

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.