WILDFLOWERS OF NEW MEXICO

 
 

This petit, rounded, 2 1/2-inch tall, 1 3/4-inch-wide cactus blends in perfectly in rocky scrabble of limestone hills. A rough covering of overlapping, grayish spines obscures the solitary or clumped stems. Note the tiny, solid pinkish-whitish flowers and erect, bright-red, club-shaped fruits.


FLOWER: Early spring (March). Clusters of 1–8 small flowers, 1/8–3/16-inch wide (3–4.6 mm), at the stem apex in an upswept tuft of spines, 5–8 solid pink to whitish petal-like tepals (without reddish mid-stripes), each tepal 1/8-inch long (3.5 mm), the smallest flower of any cacti in NM; stamens have pink to creamy anthers, stigma lobes white. Clusters of erect, red fruit, 3/8–1/2-inch long and thin (9–12 mm), crowd the top of the stems. Flowers close by mid-afternoon.


SPINES: Areoles have 20–35 flat-lying spines that form a tight network around the stem; whitish-gray radial spines, 1/16–1/4–inch long (2–6 mm); spine clusters obscure the stem and give the plant a lacy appearance, longer spines protrude around a rounded stem apex, no central spines present.


HABITAT: Rocky, limestone hills; desert grasslands and scrub.


ELEVATION: 3,000–5,000 feet.


RANGE: AZ, NM, TX.


SIMILAR SPECIES: Golf Ball Cactus, Mammillaria lasiacantha, in much the same range and habitat, has 40–60 radial spines in 3/8-inch wide (10 mm) clusters per areole, flat-lying with no central spines, and whitish flowers with red median stripes that bloom around the edge of the apex.


NM COUNTIES: South-central half of NM in low-elevation, rocky, arid habitats: Chaves, Dona Ana, Eddy, Hidalgo, Lincoln, Otero, Sandoval, Sierra, Socorro.

BUTTON  CACTUS

EPITHELANTHA  MICROMERIS

Cactus Family, Cactaceae

Perennial cactus

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Tiny pale flowers grow from the tuft of spines at the stem apex.

Areoles have flat-lying radial spines that cover the stem,  but no central spines.

The 1 3/4-inch wide stems often grow in tight clumps.

Button Cacti favor rocky habitats and often squeeze  in cracks or between boulders.

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