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Mammillaria haageana Pfeiff.

KingdomPlantaePlants, but not fungi, lichens, or algae
SubkingdomTracheobiontaVascular plants—plants with a “circulatory system” for delivering water and nutrients
DivisionMagnoliophytaFlowering plants, also known as angiosperms
ClassMagnoliopsidaDicotyledons—plants with two initial seed leaves
SubclassCaryophyllidaeCacti, many other succulents, carnivorous plants, and leadworts
OrderCaryophyllalesIncludes cacti, carnations, amaranths, ice plants, and many carnivorous plants
FamilyCactaceaeSucculent (water-storing) plants, often spiny
GenusMammillariaFrom Latin mammilla, “nipple,” referring to the tubercules on members of this genus

About plant names...

These cacti are native to southern Mexico.

Identification: Plants are spherical in shape, usually occurring alone, sometimes in clusters, up to 6" (15 cm) high and 4" (11 cm) wide. Spine groups on the side are arranged in a spiral pattern (instead of as vertical rows as in many other cacti), and they are closely spaced. Radial spines are in groups of 18-30, smooth, white, and bristled. They are ¹/₁₆-³/₁₆" (3-6 mm) long. Flowers range from bright purple-pink to carmine. Fruits are red.

If you look closely at the photo at right, you'll notice that in 1979 this cactus was labelled Mammillaria elegans dealgata. When I first saw this name, I surmised that some droll botanist had perpetrated a small joke on the botanical community. What else could Mammillaria elegans possibly mean other than "nice boobs?" I was partly right. Mammillaria does refer to breasts, specifically nipples, and elegans means "elegant." But in this context, Mammillaria refers to the tubercules on the plant surface, small raised bumps arranged in spiral patterns, the base of each group of spines. In most cacti, these are arranged as a series of vertical ribs along the stem of the cactus, but in Mammillaria, they follow the Fibonacci number sequence, a pattern that is also common elsewhere in nature.

This genus has an unusual approach to plant metabolism, absorbing CO₂ at night and re-emitting it during the day, in a way that improves photosynthesis. This is called Crassulacean acid metabolism, and it is a trait these cacti have in common with pineapples.


Anderson, Edward F., The Cactus Family, Timber Press, 2001, p. 420

Rätsch, Cristian, The Encyclopedia of Psychoactive Plants: Ethnopharmacology and its Applications, Park Street Press, 1998, p. 342

Online References:

Mammillarias.net, a web site devoted to this genus

Cactus Art: the World of Cacti & Succulents


The Mammillaria Forum (superb photos)



Mammillaria haageana description by Thomas H. Kent, last updated 25 May 2020.

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Mammillaria haageana

1 · 4/11/1979 · Huntington Library Cactus Gardens, San Marino, Cali­fornia