Pediocactus (2011)

By Eric Driskill (July 2011)

Pediocactus is in the tribe Cacteae. Most species have been added to the genus recently, but Britton and Rose described Pediocactus in 1913 with P. simpsonii. The name Pediocactus is derived from the Greek “pedion,” or plains, referring to the Great Plains habitat of the species. Depending on which author and classification you prefer, there are around seven to 10 species/subspecies, all located in North America. Most are located in the Colorado Plateau region of Utah, Colorado, New Mexico and Arizona.

These plants are considered dwarf, solitary or clustering. Their stems are cylindrical to globose, tuberculate and lack ribs. This genus has some of the most interesting spine formations of any cacti you could find. Spines usually obscure the stems and vary in number, color and formation. Radial spines on several species look like combs similar to a Pelecyphora aselliformis. Other species have spines that look much like the spines of many mammillarias, and one species has spines that look completely confused, going in every direction. Flowers of all species open during the day in spring and early summer. Flowers range in color from yellow to magenta to white.

If you’re looking for cacti that will fill 10-inch pots, you need to look elsewhere. If you don’t have that much space to fill, you can certainly consider Pediocactus plants. With all species considered dwarf, you can collect several species without giving up too much space.

For a comblike spine, take a look at Pediocactus knowltonii, which has nice pinkish flowers. For the most interesting and heavily spined species, consider P. peeblesianus.