With the uniqueness of the spine patterns this tiny
plant is a real gem
and one of the most
sought-after and distinctive species of Mammillaria.
globular succulent plants, usually solitary (Slowly clumping in
Stems: Depressed-globose to globose, soft, dark green,
usually not more than 2,5 cm in diameter and height (but in
cultivation it can slowly grow up to 4,5 cm in diameter). Without
Roots: Somewhat fleshy, thickened root
Tubercles: Pyramidal with short white wool in the axil.
Radial spines: 17 - 25, white, cream coloured or tan,
radiating, somewhat pectinate and curved backwards, not interlacing,
1.2 - 2.2 mm long.
Central spines: Absent.
Flowers: Cherry red to fuschia-red (or occasionally white)
with a paler throat, relatively large in relation to the stems size,
up to 20 mm long, 2,5 cm large. The flowers are diurnal and close at
Blooming season: A characteristic of this species is that, at
least when cultivated northern Europe and US, the flowers appears
during Autumn and Winter, and often fails to develop properly due to
cold, damp, and lack of light in a temperate climate. A sufficiently
sunny October day is needed to prompt them to open.
Fruits: Remains embedded in the stem.
Seeds: Large, black.
wild this plants
contract considerably during the
dry season, sometimes pulling down completely under the
soil level. Frequently the flowers push up through the dirt
body. In fact, even though this plant shows new
year, it hardly gets any larger,
and its dimensions remain unvaried
year after year, as the individual
stems tend to
contract at the
base. The new
growth produced during the
vegetative season compacts considerably and
retracts, sometimes pulling down the plant
completely under the
soil in the hottest months of
summer and coldest months of
It should be noted that "when
specimens are in this withdrawn state, it becomes almost
impossible to find them in their
natural state even though their exact
locality is known"
An unusually large specimen (grafted on Trichocereus to speed
This attractive plant from Oaxaca is still not common in
Surprising large pink flowers (2,5cm) completely dwarf its tiny
Mammillaria hernandezii Glass & Foster
Pubblished in: Cact. Succ. J. (US) 55(1): 22
Conservation status: Listed in
CITES appendix 2.
- Bartschella hernandezii Doweld 2000
Distribution: Central Mexico, Oaxaca,
Tehuacan-Cuicatlan Valley, Altitude 2.300 m.
Slow growing M. hernadezii is
not the easiest of Mammillarias to grow and keep. The plant is often seen
as most of the available stock has so far been propagated this way.
Grafted plants grow fast and are very
But it is not so very difficult to cultivate plants on their own roots given the same care with drainage and
watering that is afforded to other species of Mammillaria with
fleshy roots. It
mineral-based potting mix and
needs to be kept
Pot plants are quite
wet-sensitive. Care must be taken with watering,
and they need good
drainage. Water sparingly
growing season, keep very dry in
winter. Usually it is recommended to
this plant in a bright and warm greenhouse with at least 8-10° C ,
but it has proved to tolerate temperatures as low
as -5° C for short periods.
The "hernandezii" needs
produce a green anaesthetic plant with open, far and wide spaced
grafting. Not too difficult to raise from seed,
germination of the seed can still prove to be a challenge. Seeds can be
sown in the spring or summer. The seedlings should not be disturbed
until they are well rooted, after which they can be planted
separately in small pots.
root well but plants on their own roots are quite slow.
M. hernandezii is one of the few
species of cactus with
cryptocarpic fruits. That is, the fruit and seeds are produced
and retained inside the
stem of the plant.
is finished and dropped off, the
closes over the fruit and the fruit/seed
within. The following
the fruit may remain within the body at the
or may protrude a bit. A
membrane will be above the part where
ripe seed can emerge. As the plant
swells with the new
growing season, the
membrane fractures, and some seeds
from the past years can little
by little drop down and
germinate in the close proximity, forming small
But usually the seeds remain within the plant
body for several
(usually about 9) or for the whole
released only at the
of the plant, after the disintegration of the old stem.
It is possible to
fruit and seeds only by means of a thin pointed
lasts for many years, and moreover
that preserve them from
seeds won’t germinate very well; only old seeds do.
of this kind of seed may take several years (Some will sprout
unexpectedly after 5 or 8 years!)
Because of the above
peculiarity, seeds and plants of cryptocarpic Mammillaria (Series
Longiflorae) are seldom available from commercial sources.
Viability, measured as the proportion of germinating seeds, varies
widely and is not correlated with seed’s age (e.g. 77% in 8-year
old M. hernandezii seeds). Germination speed, however, increases
with age. That is, given the opportunity (humidity) to germinate,
older seeds do it faster. Slow release of fruits in these species
introduces a time-lag mechanism that has important consequences on
long-term population dynamics. It reduces both population growth and
its temporal variability. This may account both for the rarity of
these species, and for their long-term population stability. This
makes them highly vulnerable to habitat disturbance and has
implications for the strategies required for their conservation.