Mammillaria Madness!

Today’s visit to the Home Despot yielded two new plants for the collection—both Mammillaria. The first one I spotted was a M. gracilis ssp. fragilis. This is such a commonly sold plant that I never felt the urge to buy one at any given time, figuring I could always order one from a reputable seller online. But for some reason I never did, although I actually really like this plant. Today this nice cluster appeared, flowering pale yellow, and I couldn’t resist. It should be a treat to repot, because the little segments pop off if you look at them sideways, which is to say, even easier than the segments of Tephrocactus. But like Tephros, the segments root readily. Mamms aren’t known for their flowers, but I like the way these flowers dot the cluster with bursts of yellow. And their rounded petals are a change from the usual pointed Mamm petals.

The second cluster was Rich’s pick. I’m fascinated by the geometric shapes—one of the neatest features of Mammillaria as a group. We don’t know yet whether this is one plant with three heads, or three cactuses planted together. I won’t find out for sure until I repot it in the spring. If it truly is Mammillaria elegans, as the ever-dubious Altman label indicates, I suspect it’s three separate plants. Time will tell.

In bonus Mammillaria news, today our Mammillaria plumosa opened its first flower! The bloom is pale beige with hints of pink, and has the typically unimpressive Mamm flower form. But unlike most cactus flowers, it has a blissful fragrance!

A nice cluster of dainty yellow-flowering "thimble cactus." One plant or three? I won't know until I repot in spring.
New Mammillaria friends