Mammillaria bombycina (2008)

PhotoBy Barbara Gardner (May 2008)

Mammillaria bombycina – “cina” or silk, referring to the sheen on the spines – is a reliable plant of cultivation from Coahuila, Mexico. It is at first a globular plant, becoming cylindrical in age and forming huge clumps. The stems, or cone-shaped tubercles, are up to 8 inches tall and 2 inches wide, with dense white wool in the axils, especially near the crown of the plant.

Its areoles have four hooked central spines and 30 to 40 whitish, thin, radial spines. The reddish-purple or pink flowers are about 2 to 3 inches long and wide – they sort of look like silk straw flowers. They appear by day in mid-summer.

M. bombycina requires full sun and normal cactus compost. The minimum temperature to keep it in top condition is 50 degrees F. Propagation is normally by offsets, which should be removed as close to the parent plant as possible and dried for a week before planting.