Sunday, February 26, 2012

SUCCULENT SUNDAY: Mammillaria pectinifera

Even if you limit yourself to the most seductive cacti from genus Mammillaria, you still have dozens of strange and wonderful plants to choose from. Mammillaria pectinifera (Latin for "comb-bearing") has such minute, harmless spines that they appear like legs on tiny bugs—reminiscent of the spines on Mammillaria hernandezii (profiled previously). The spine beds are elongated vertically, like so many miniature millipedes marching in tight formation.

Surprisingly, Mammillaria pectinifera is closely related to M. carmenae (which looks completely different & is also profiled on Sentient Meat), M. glassii, M. picta, M. plumosa, and M. prolifera. Together these species plants form a clade, a group of types likely descending from a common ancestor. They differ markedly from each other in size, spines, and other features.

Mammillaria pectinifera, endangered miniature cactus native to Puebla, Oaxaca. Plant grown and photographed by Mr Sentient Meat
My plant is just over an inch in diameter. This is its first bloom under my care. The flowers are an elegant pale pink. Overall the plant is neat and understated in appearance.

Mammillaria pectinifera, same plant viewed close up, plant grown and photographed by Mr Sentient Meat
Mammillaria pectinifera's appeal may be its downfall. It is reported to be nearly extinct due to over-collection within its native Puebla, Oaxaca, Mexico. Consequently, it's protected under CITES I, the most stringent protocol of international protection.

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