Escobaria vivipara (Spinystar) is a small cactus with ball-shaped or cylindrical stems densely covered in a mat of star-shaped arrays of…
Drought-tolerant suitable for xeriscaping
Average Water Needs Water regularly do not overwater
USDA Zone 9b: to -3.8 °C (25 °F)
USDA Zone 10a: to -1.1 °C (30 °F)
USDA Zone 10b: to 1.7 °C (35 °F)
USDA Zone 11: above 4.5 °C (40 °F)
Can be grown as an annual
Plant has spines or sharp edges use extreme caution when handling
Allow cut surface to callous over before planting
From seed direct sow after last frost
Allow unblemished fruit to ripen clean and dry seeds
Unblemished fruit must be significantly overripe before harvesting seed clean and dry seeds
Properly cleaned, seed can be successfully stored
This plant is said to grow outdoors in the following regions:
On Jul 23, 2007, franj from Tucson, AZ wrote:
This plant was initially sold to me as a species of Coryphantha. It was posted for ID on the C&S forum not once but twice. The second time flowering, at which time it was suggested it was a variety of Escobaria vivapara. I concurr. It was Thistlesifter, whos opinion I respect very much, that suggested var kaibabensis. After comparison with another Escobaria vivipara in my collection I detect both differences in the spination and the flower which suggest he is correct.
The plant has remained healthy, treated the same as my other potted cactus, and has flowered off and on every few weeks throughout the summer. The flowers are large considering the size of the plant itself. Almost an inch across. Like other Escobaria it should clump in time. Given the fact that just one tiny h. read more ead can produce multiple flowers, even a small patch of this must be a wonder to behold when it decides to flower.
Small but mighty – with a height of only seven centimeters Escobaria vivipara belongs to the smaller representatives of the cacti family and is easily underestimated. In fact, however, the plant is particularly robust, with rain protection it can easily withstand temperatures down to -59 °F even outdoors.
If it then shows its impressive, bright pink flowers in summer, which reach a diameter of five centimeters, the small exotic steals even the large cacti appearance.
Cold hardy, moisture tolerant, low growing form, beautiful flowers, adaptable — five key phrases to look for, when choosing a cactus to fit into your rock garden.
Escobaria vivipara is one of these cactus. It is found in seventeen U.S. states and three Canadian provinces. With such a vast territory variability is to be expected. Again E. vivipara does not let us down. The E. vivipara complex contains nine named varieties and one closely associated species.
The varieties are: arizonica, bisbeeana, deserti, kaibabensis, neomexicana, radiosa, rosa, vivipara (the most widespread) and buoflama (the name is an acronym of Bureau of Land Management). The associated species is Escobaria alversonii, at one point considered a variety.
The highest degree of variability occurs in the southwestern states. Var. vivipara is a low clumping mat and arizonica a cylindrical upright clumper. The other varieties fall in between these two forms.
Origin and Habitat: This widespread species occurs in Canada (Alberta, Manitoba, and Saskatchewan), United States (Arizona, California, Colorado, Idaho, Kansas, Minnesota, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, New Mexico, North Dakota, Oklahoma, Oregon, South Dakota, Texas, Utah, Wyoming) and in Mexico (states of Chihuahua, Coahuila and Sonora).
Altitude range: It occurs at elevations ranging from 180 meters in var. radiosa to 2,700 meters in var. rosea.
Habitat and Ecology: This cactus occurs in dry valleys, plains and foothills on open, gentle to steep rocky slopes and flats, with sagebrush or conifer species and grasslands. Different varieties occur in grasslands, woodlands, montane forests, or deserts. Escobaria vivipara has a very wide range, is abundant, and there are no threats.
Description: Escobaria vivipara is a small solitary or clumping cactus. Some varieties form colonies of over 200 stems. This species is the most widespread, abundant and variable member of the genus. It is densely covered in a mat of star-shaped arrays of spines.
Stems: Usually more than 1/2 above ground (sometimes deep-seated and flat-topped in winter, in cold climates and/or in immaturity), spheric, ovoid, obovoid, or cylindric with age, 2.5-75 × 3-11 cm tall.
Tubercles: Grooved, 8-25 × 3-8 mm, stiff or ± flaccid areolar glands absent.
Roots: ± diffuse, less than 1/4 of stem diameter.
Spines: 11-55 per areole either bright white, ashy white, pale tan, pale pinkish grey, or reddish brown (rarely straw-yellow), tips dark bright pinkish brown, reddish brown, dark brown, orange-brown, or pinkish orange, purplish gray, pinkish gray, brownish red, sepia dark purplish brown, or stramineous, opaque or vitreous, fading, then blackening with age (dark tips rarely absent).
Radial spines: 10-40 per areole, weakly appressed or tightly appressed, pectinately arranged in subadults of some populations, 7-22 mm long. Subcentral spines are sometimes present.
Central spines: Straight outer central spines 3-14 per areole appressed or strongly projecting, in "bird’s-foot" arrangement or radiating like spokes, longest spines 9-25 mm.
Flowers: Subapical, 20-65(-90?) mm long outer tepals conspicuously fringed pale rose-pink to reddish pink or magenta (or rarely yellow or green) , sometimes with darker midstripes, sometimes shading to white or pale green,
Fruits: Green, exposed portions slowly turning dull brownish red, ovoid to obovoid, 12-28 × 7-20 mm, juicy floral remnant persistent.
Seeds: bright reddish brown, comma-shaped or nearly obovoid, (1-)1.3-2.4(-3) mm.
Blooming season: Spring-late summer fruiting 2-5 months after flowering.
Subspecies, varieties, forms and cultivars of plants belonging to the Escobaria vivipara group
Bibliography: Major references and further lectures
1) Edward Anderson “The Cactus family” Timber Press, Incorporated, 2001
2) Terry, M., Heil, K. & Corral-Díaz, R. 2013. Escobaria vivipara. The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Version 2015.1. . Downloaded on 13 June 2015.
3) James Cullen, Sabina G. Knees, H. Suzanne Cubey "The European Garden Flora Flowering Plants: A Manual for the Identification of Plants Cultivated in Europe, Both Out-of-Doors and Under Glass" Cambridge University Press, 11/Aug/2011
4) David R Hunt Nigel P Taylor Graham Charles International Cactaceae Systematics Group. "The New Cactus Lexicon" dh books, 2006
5) Castetter, E.F., P. Pierce and K.H. Schwerin. “Reassessment of the genus Escobaria.” Cactus and Succulent Journal (US) 47(2):60-70.1975.
6) Leo J. Chance “Cacti and Succulents for Cold Climates: 274 Outstanding Species for Challenging Conditions” Timber Press, 19/giu/2012
7) N. L. Britton, J. N. Rose “The Cactaceae. Descriptions and Illustrations of Plants of the Cactus Family.” Volume 4, The Carnegie Institution of Washington, Washington 1923
8) Flora of North America Editorial Committee. “Flora of North America, volume 4.” Oxford University Press, New York.2003.