The genus Mammillaria is one of the largest in the cactus family (Cactaceae), with currently 171 known species and varieties recognized. Most of the mammillarias are native to Mexico, but some come from the southwest USA, the Caribbean, Colombia, Venezuela, Guatemala and Honduras.
The first was described by Carolus Linnaeus as Cactus mammillaris in 1753.
Mammillarias have extremely variable spination from species to species, and attractive flowers, making them specifically attractive for cactus hobbyists. Most mammillarias plants are considered easy to cultivate, though some species are among the hardest cacti to grow. Several taxa are threatened with extinction at least in the wild, due to habitat destruction and especially overcollecting for the pot plant trade. Cactus fanciers can assist conservation of these rare plants by choosing nursery-bred specimens (wild-collected ones are illegal to possess for the rarest species anyways). Besides helping to preserve rare plants, one can gain experience in growing and breeding cacti in general with nursery-bred rare mammillarias: several mammillarias are quite easy (for cacti) to grow from seeds. One such species, popular and widely available from nursery stock but Endangered in the wild, is Mammillaria zeilmanniana.
The distinctive feature of the genus is the specific development of an areole, that is split into two clearly separated parts, one occurring at the tubercle's apex, the other at its base. The apex part is spine bearing, and the base part is always spineless, but usually bearing some bristles or wool. The base part of the areole bears the flowers and fruits, and is a branching point. The apex part of the areole does not carry flowers, but in certain conditions can function as a branching point as well.
The plants are usually small, globose to elongated, the stems from 1 cm to 20 cm in diameter and from 1 cm to 40 cm tall, clearly tuberculate, solitary to clumping forming mounds of up to 100 heads and possess radial symmetry. Tubercles can be conical, cylindrical, pyramidal or round. The roots are fibrous, fleshy or tuberous. The flowers are funnel-shaped and range from 7 mm to 40 mm and more in length and in diameter, from white and greenish to yellow, pink and red in color, often with a darker mid-stripe; the reddish hues are due to betalain pigments as usual for Caryophyllales. The fruit is berry-like, club-shaped or elongated, usually red but sometimes white, yellow or green. Some species have the fruit embedded into the plant body. The seeds are black or brown, from 1 to 3 mm in size.
Mammillaria guillauminiana. It was endemic to Mexico. Its natural habitat was hot deserts.
Mammillaria dioica, the strawberry cactus, California fishhook cactus or fishhook cactus, is a cactus species of the genus Mammillaria found in California and northwestern Mexico, including Baja California and the state of Sonora.
The plant possesses short, firm tubercles ending in the spines. Most of these spines are whitish and straight, but each tubercle has a longer central spine which is slightly curved and dark.
A single plant can bear both male and female flowers. Some plants may produce bisexual flowers as well, thus totaling three types of flower on a single plant. The flowers are white to cream in color and range from 10 millimeters (0.4 inch) to 30 millimeters (1.2 inches) in length. The fruits produced are bright red and ovoid, often with one end thicker than the other and are edible and tastes like a cross between a strawberry and a kiwi. The seeds are small (0.6 to 0.8 millimeters), black, and pitted.
Mammilloydia candida - The snowball cactus is a species of cacti and the sole species of the genus Mammilloydia. It originates from Mexico.
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