Published in: Botanisches Zeitschrift 1:737 (1843)
Origin: Mexico (San Luis Potosí - around the city of San
Habitat: This species is found in grit,
at over 1800 meters in altitude,
and receives little water in summer and none in
winter. Plants grow in the shade of bushes and don’t get direct sun
Ariocarpus aselliformis (Ehrenberg)
Web. in Bois, Dict. Hort. 931 (1898).
Mammillaria aselliformis (Ehrenb.)
H.P.Kelsey & Dayton 1942
Mammillaria asellifera Monville ex Weber in Bois, Dict.
Hort. 931 (1898);
Anhalonium aselliforme F.A.C.Weber. in
Bois, Dict. Hort. 931 (1898);
Pelecyphora aselliformis grandiflora Haage Jr., Kakt.
Kultur 2a:206 (1900)].
Common name: Peyotillo,
hatchet cactus, woodlouse cactus.
Etymology: From the Greek "pelekus"
(hatchet) and "phoros" (bearing), referring to the
shape of the tubercles.
Conservation status: Listed in
CITES appendix I
Description: Small clustering cactus
Stem: Spherical to shortly cylindrical, 5-10 cm tall, 2-5 cm in
diameter. The stem in young plant is quite different, very thin,
pencil-like or clavate.
Tubercles: Laterally flattened, elongated, arranged in spirals;
Areoles: Oval shaped areoles. Areoles in this species are clearly
dimorphic, much as in the mammillarias, but the
groove is reminiscent of Coryphantha and related genera.
Spines: 40 to 60 pectinated.
Flowers: Pink to violet flowers with lighter outside petals, 2 -
3.5 cm in diameter. The floral buds are acuminate and appear on the
Fruit: Dry, papery.
Seeds: Brown, curved and reticulate.
Blooming season: It normally flowers from February till October,
but only if the sunlight is strong enough.
NOTE: This species is closely related to
Encephalocarpus strobiliformis. All evidence (the external
features such as floral, fruit, and seed morphology, but also the
internal structure, including tubercle and areole development, the
anatomy of surface layers of mature tubercles, the structure of crystals
in the ground tissues, and features of
tracheary elements etc.) shows that the two plants are
A young plant grafted to speed up the growth
Seedlings at the base of an old plant in the growing pot.
Mature specimens function as
nurse plants and creates an
environment that is less severe for young
seedlings growing underneath it to
survive in a harsh desert environment.
Cultivation: It’s a relatively easy species to
cultivate, but very slow growing. Needs a very well drained soil.
strong sun to part sun to develop good spinal growth and waterings
should be rather infrequent, to keep the plant compact and not become
excessively elongated and unnatural in appearance. Keep dry in winter,
or when night temperatures remain below 10° C (but some people give this
plant a light monthly watering to prevent the drying and shedding of the
lower tubercles.) it is hardy to -4°C for a short period. Assure a good
Propagation: It can be reproduced both by
seeds and cuttings, but it is often grafted because difficult and slow
to grow on its own roots. Older specimens shoot
tillers from under tubercles,
so they can be grafted, which is a much easier way of propagation than
sowing. Young seedlings are tiny and they need several years to reach
adult size, and require very careful watering.
This species is a rarity every cactus impassioned
would like to have. The appeal lies in the peculiarly-shaped tubercles
and showy flowers, plus the challenge of growing it successfully.