First described by Friedrich Bödeker in 1931, Mammillaria blossfeldiana has experienced several identity crises since then and was earlier this year reallocated to Cochemiea by Breslin and Majure.
At a time in my hobby where I was beginning to be less than impressed by the small flowers of mammillarias, I had started to acquire the larger-flowering species and coincidentally, epiphyllums. I acquired some seed of this Mammillaria species from the BCSS seed list in 1990 and this germinated in March 1991, and since reaching maturity has produced flowers from around the apical growing point (Fig. 1). In a good year, it can produce up to three flushes of flowers which normally last for up to five days. The petals are white with a pronounced deep pink mid-stripe and the plant grows slowly into a columnar form (Fig. 2). It has a single long, dark and hooked central spine accompanied by around 15 shorter radial spines. The areoles are arranged in a spiral, alternating pattern. It is always tricky extricating the plant which is amongst the few remaining mammillarias in my collection (also with hooked spines) and invariably a central spine latches onto one of its neighbours or a finger, or both!
By 2001, my interest in Echinocereus was burgeoning and I was lucky enough to travel to Baja California with Paul Hoxey and Jos Huizer. We were led by the late, great Richard Römer who know most of the locations and the fishermen who owned boats we could charter for the islands, coupled with a superb knowledge of Spanish. Our journey took us down to El Arco, close to the border between Baja California and Baja California Sur. There we found a wonderful habitat with several echinocerei but I had not counted on finding Mammillaria blossfeldiana at this location (Fig. 3). It was in the open, amongst a rocky terrain and in full flower. Less of the stem is visible on the habitat plant than the one in my collection but I am sure that is due to the intensity of the sun and a harsher natural watering regime.
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