Mammillaria heyderi

Little Nipple Cactus Mammillaria heyderi
East of Petroglyph Mine
East of Hillsboro, NM, USA
Photos without flower:  January 26, 2017
Photos in flower: March 30, 2017

Occasionally we encounter the flat little cactus called the Pancake Nipple Cactus, Heyder Pincushion Cactus, Cream Pincushion, or Little Nipple Cactus, Mammillaria heyderi, as we walk the hills of the Black Range.  This species is rarely more than an inch or so high or more than four inches in diameter, so it is easily overlooked.   

Mammillaria heyderi grows at lower to middle elevations (3,000’ - 6,000’) in the Black Range area.  It is usually found on limestone or alluvial substrates.  As shown on the BONAP map to the right the species has a limited range within the United States (light green means that the species is native to and not rare within the county indicated).  It is also found in northern Mexico (Chihuahua, Coahuila, Durango, Nuevo Len, San Luis Potos, Sonora, Tamaulipas, Veracruz, Yucatan, and Zacatecas).  There are two to five described varieties, the one shown here is probably the nominate form (having less than 10 radial spines per areole).  (Note that Tropicos lists five varieties.)

Scientific synonyms for this species include Cactus heyderi, Mammillaria applanata, Mammilaria gummifera var. applanata, Neomamillaria heyderi, and others.  Mammilaria gummifera var. bullingtoniana is also found in southwestern New Mexico.

The pulp of the cactus is reported to have been cooked to make a poultice for the relief of earache.

Phillipp August Friedrich Mühlenpfordt first described this species.  He is especially known for his work with cacti (see his portrait from 1856 to the right).

Photo immediately above: June 1, 2015

Photographs immediately above and below
September 17, 2019
Ready Pay Gulch, East of Hillsboro

© Robert Barnes 2018-2023