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Pincushion Cactus (Escobaria, Pediocactus)
Cactus Around Las Vegas, Vegetation Around Las Vegas
Desert Spinystar (Escobaria vivipara var. deserti)

General: Pincushion Cactus is the general name for a group of small, round cactus that grow to about 6-inches tall by 3-inches wide (usually 2 by 2 or smaller). The stems do not have the ribs (flutes) seen in some other cactus. The plants are densely covered with relatively long, stout, straight white spines with dark tips. Pincushion cactus tend to grow in small groups, but it is not uncommon to find solitary plants.

Pincushion Cactus are a small and inconspicuous, but interesting member of several vegetation communities. Pincushions occur in the Upper Sonoran (Mojave Desert Scrub and Pinyon-Juniper Woodland) life zone. Three types (2 species) occur around Las Vegas.

Family: Cactus (Cactaceae).

Other Names: Mammillaria cactus

Plant Form: Short, usually solitary, rounded stem that emerges from the ground. Unbranched.

Height: To 3- to 7-inches tall, to 5-inches in diameter.

Trunk: None.

Desert Spinystar (Escobaria vivipara var. deserti)

Leaves: None (reduced to spines).

Flowers: Blooms in early summer. Flowers small to large, straw to magenta.

Seeds: Small (2 mm), brown.

Habitat: Rocky bajadas to desert peaks; limestone areas.

Distribution: Species distributed throughout the southwestern deserts.

Elevation: 3,000 to 9,000 ft.

Comments: Two species of pincushion occur around Las Vegas.

Desert Spinystar (Escobaria vivipara var. deserti) Desert Spinystar (Escobaria vivipara var. deserti). Small, round cactus densely covered with spines. To about 6-inches tall, 3-inches in diameter. Spines straight (like pins); none are fish-hook shaped. Central spines white with reddish-brown tips. Spines pressed closely against the stem. Flowers yellowish, 1-inch in diameter. Southwest Utah, northwest Arizona, southern Nevada, southeastern California, including the McCullough Mountains, Mt. Charleston, and Red Rock Canyon NCA.
Spinystar (Escobaria vivipara var. rosea) Spinystar (Escobaria vivipara var. rosea). Small, round cactus densely covered with spines. To 7 inches tall, 5 inches in diameter. Spines straight (like pins); none are fish-hook shaped. Central spines white with red tips. Spines pressed closely against the stem. Flowers magenta, 2-inches in diameter. Southeast California, southern Nevada, and northwest Arizona.
Mountain Ball Cactus (Pediocactus simpsonii) Simpson Hedgehog Cactus (Pediocactus simpsonii). Small, round cactus loosely covered with spines. Spines straight (like pins); none are fish-hook shaped. Central spines exceed 1/2-inch long, reddish-brown; radial spines white or tan. Central spines stand out from the stem. Flowers pink, about 1 inch in diameter.

Note: All distances, elevations, and other facts are approximate. Names generally follow the USDA database.
copyright; Last updated 170904

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