Mammillaria fraileana

Scientific Name

Mammillaria fraileana (Britton & Rose) Backeb.


Bartschella albicans subsp. fraileana, Chilita fraileana, Ebnerella fraileana, Mammillaria albicans subsp. fraileana, Mammillaria albicans f. fraileana, Neomammillaria fraileana

Scientific Classification

Family: Cactaceae
Subfamily: Cactoideae
Tribe: Cacteae
Subtribe: Cactinae
Genus: Mammillaria


Mammillaria fraileana is small cactus that grows up to 6 inches (15 cm), slowly offsetting to forms small clusters. Stems are green but often reddish if grown in full light, cylindrical, and up to 1.6 inches (4 cm) in diameter. They have 11 to 12 thin, white, and up to 0.4 inches (1 cm) long radial spines and 3 to 4 (one hooked), dark brown, up to 0.4 inches (1 cm) long central spines per areole. Flowers are up to 1.2 inches (3 cm) in diameter and have light pink petals with a darker pink median line.


USDA hardiness zones 9b to 11b: from 25 °F (−3.9 °C) to 50 °F (+10 °C).

How to Grow and Care

To encourage better flowering, allow the plants to enjoy a cooling period in the winter and suspend watering. Unlike many other cacti, which use their ribs as storage devices, Mammillaria feature raised tubercles, from which spines emerge. When you water, the tubercles will expand to allow for increased water storage. The flowers emerge from the axils of these tubercles on the previous year's growth, which accounts for their interesting halo effect. The cactus mustn't be exposed to prolonged dampness and sitting water. Never let your cactus sit in a dish of water. Lastly, make sure to fertilize during the growing season for the best results.

Repot as needed, preferably during the warm season. To repot Mammillaria, make sure the soil is dry before repotting, then gently remove the pot. Knock away the old soil from the roots, making sure to remove any rotted or dead roots in the process. Treat any cuts with a fungicide. Place the plant in its new pot and backfill with potting soil, spreading the roots out as you repot. Leave the plant dry for a week or so, then begin to water lightly to reduce the risk of root rot.

Learn more at How to Grow and Care for Mammillaria.


Native to central Mexico (Baja California).


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The genus Mammillaria is known to have specific features such as an areole separated into two parts: the apex of the tubercle and the base. The apex bears the spine of the cactus while the base bears flowers and fruits.

Specifically, Mammillaria fraileana has its own traits. These cacti grow in slowly offsetting, irregularly forming clusters, large and small. They have cylindrical stems usually 3–4 cm in diameter the clump near the base. Their body is green but can come off reddish if grown in full light. Tubercles are pyramidal without latex. Roots are fibrous. This cactus has 11 to 12 thin and white radial spines that range from 8 to 10 mm long. Their 3 to 4 central spines are dark brown and are commonly 10 mm long. Mammillaria fraileana grow light pink flowers with a darker pink median line. These flowers are 2.5 to 3 cm in diameter and their stigma is bright pink. The fruit is red and contains small black seeds. Mammillaria fraileana commonly bloom from May to September.

Mammillaria fraileana - garden

Origin and Habitat: Mexico, state of Baja California (on the Coast of Gulf of California, near La Paz, Cabo san Lucas, Todos santos)
Habitat: It grows on non calcareous arid granite-based soils and rocky hillsides, in desert scrub (Lower Sonoran Zone) and is quite abundant where it occurs, but tends to be scarce on the mainland. The habitat of Mammillaria fraileana is home to succulent flora and is particularly rich in local endemics such as: Mammillaria albicans, Mammillaria poselgeri, Mammillaria cerralboa, Mammillaria capensis, Mammillaria hutchisoniana v. bullardiana, Mammillaria evermanniana, Mammillaria schumannii, Ferocactus townsendianus, Ferocactus diguetii, Echinocereus ferreirianus, Echinocereus barthelowanus, Echinocereus brandegeei, Echinocereus sciurus, Opuntia tapona, Opuntia cholla, Opuntia bravoae, Peniocereus johnstonii, Lophocereus schottii, Machaerocereus gummosus, Stenocereus thurberi, Pachycereus pringlei, Yucca valida and Ibervillea sonorae var. peninsulae. There are no known major threats for Mammillaria fraileana.

  • Mammillaria fraileana (Britton & Rose) Backeb.
    • Bartschella albicans subs. fraileana (Britton & Rose) Doweld
    • Chilita fraileana (Britton & Rose) Orcutt
    • Ebnerella fraileana (Britton & Rose) Buxb.
    • Mammillaria albicans subs. fraileana (Britton & Rose) D.R.Hunt
    • Mammillaria albicans f. fraileana (Britton & Rose) Lüthy
    • Neomammillaria fraileana Britton & Rose

Description: Slowly offsetting, irregularly forming small clusters.
Stem: Cylindrical, narrow, eventually clumping near the base of the plant, without latex, 3-4 cm in diameter, 15 cm tall. Body is green, but often reddish if grown in full light.
Tubercles: Pyramidal without latex, axil naked (or with a few bristles)
Roots: Fibrous or moderately swollen.
Radial spines: 11 to 12, 8 to 10 mm long, thin and white.
Central spines: 3 to 4, 10 mm long, dark brown, with one central spine, hooked.
Flowers: Light pink flower, petals with darker pink median line, 2,5-3 cm in diameter, stigma bright carmine-pink. (A form with greenish-yellow stigma lobes is also known as "yellow form").
Fruits: Red, clavate and long lasting on the plant.
Seeds: Black.
Blooming season: From May to September.

Bibliography: Major references and further lectures
1) Edward Anderson “The Cactus family” Timber Press, Incorporated, 2001
2) 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
2) David R Hunt Nigel P Taylor Graham Charles International Cactaceae Systematics Group. "The New Cactus Lexicon" dh books, 2006
3) John Pilbeam “Mammillaria: the cactus file handbook” Cirio Publishing Services Ltd Dec/30,/1999
4) León de la Luz, J.L., Hernández, H.M. & Gómez-Hinostrosa, C. 2013. Mammillaria albicans. In: IUCN 2013. "IUCN Red List of Threatened Species." Version 2013.2. . Downloaded on 03 January 2014.
5) Forrest Shreve, Ira Loren Wiggins "Vegetation and Flora of the Sonoran Desert" Volume 1 Stanford University Press, 1964

Mammillaria fraileana Photo by: Andrea B.
A ten year old clustering in Colin's collection. Photo by: Colin Bundred
Mammillaria fraileana Photo by: Valentino Vallicelli
Mammillaria fraileana Photo by: Valentino Vallicelli

Watch the video: 10 Types of Mammillaria. Cactus Identification

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