Escobaria sneedii (2016)

PhotoBy Eric Driskill (March 2016)

The genus Escobaria was described in 1923 by Britton and Rose in The Cactaceae. The genus name was in honor of Romulo Escobar of Mexico City and Numa Escobar of Juarez.

Escobarias have a particular connection to the Henry Shaw Cactus and Succulent Society. Ladislaus Cutak founded our club on July 12, 1942, with 12 charter members, just 19 years after Britton and Rose described Escobaria. In Cutak’s book Cactus Guide, he stated that Neobesseya missouriensis, now known as Escobaria missouriensis, is our club flower.

Escobaria sneedii has common names of Lee’s pincushion, Sneed’s cory-cactus, Sneed’s Excobaria and Sneed’s pincushion. E. sneedii is many-stemmed, branching and eventually forming large clumps. Its stems – only 1 to 3 inches tall and up to 1 inch in diameter – are densely covered in spines. The plants have six to nine white central spines and 25 to 35 white radial spines.

The plants are absolutely darling and even more attractive when in flower. The flowers are white with pink or magenta midveins less than 1 inch long. They are found in Florida, West Texas and the Gaudalupe Mountains of New Mexico.

Two subspecies of E. sneedii are recognized. Subspecies leei differs from subspecies sneedii in having spines bent backward and drooping toward the stem. The flowers are brownish pink, and the subspecies occurs only in the Guadalupe Mountains of New Mexico.

Escobaria sneedii is a very endearing, smaller-bodied cacti that doesn’t typically require any unusual care. This plant is also winter-hardy in our area, which means you can add one to your collection and either allot a very small space on your bench, or none at all.