Pincushion cactus (Mammilaria species)

Pincushion cactus showing flowers and elongated red fruitThe Pincushion Cactus, also known as Nipple Cactus or Fishhook Cactus, are round, short, globe shaped to barrel-shaped, and without leaves. Sharp spines cover the entire plant. The roots are fibrous or fleshy.  They may grow to over 3 feet but most grow to about 6-8 inches in height by 4-6 inches in diameter.

The flowers are funnel-shaped and range from white and greenish to yellow, pink, or red in color (often with a darker mid-stripe).  The fruit is berry-like and usually red but can be white, yellow, or green.  The seeds are brown or black.

Where to Find: These cacti are found throughout much of the desert regions of the south western United States and parts of Central America including Mexico, Colombia, Venezuela, Guatemala, and the Honduras.

Edible Parts: They are a good source of water in the desert.  The fruits, which are typically red, elongated structures that look like little red peppers, are edible.

Some Pincushion cactus may appear to be covered in hair

The sharp thorns of the Pincushion cactus

Pincushion cactus flowers

Occasionally you may find elongated, barrel-shaped Pincushion cactus

Pincushion cactus flowers

Pincushion cactus in the wild

A group of Pincushion cactus in the wild

Pincushion cactus

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