Mammillaria formosa subsp. chionocephala (J.A.Purpus) D.R.Hunt

First described as Mammillaria chionocephala by J A Purpus in 1906, it remained as such for almost 100 years before David Hunt reduced it to a subspecies of M. formosa in Mammillaria Postscripts 7 in 1998. In cultivation it can also be found under the synonym of M. ritteriana.

Mammillaria formosa ssp. chionocephala P283
Mammillaria formosa ssp. chionocephala P283

Its type locality is the Sierra de Parras, Coahuila, Mexico, a location of many cactus species. It can be found over a wide distribution range including the states of Nuevo León, Coahuila and Durango, from an altitude of 1,450–2,400m.

It is a solitary headed plant unlike the other subspecies, M. formosa subsp. formosa and M. formosa subsp. microthele and will, in time, produce a white woolly head over a foot (0.3m) tall. In John Pilbeam’s Mammillaria book the flowers are described as pale rose-pink to white.

Mammillaria formosa
Mammillaria formosa ssp. chionocephala P283

The very attractive form shown in these photos is P283, which is a collection made by J Piltz of the Kakteen-Piltz nursery in Germany. The outer petals are rose-pink while the inside is a creamy-white.

Mark McCormack

No part of this article may be reproduced without permission. Copyright BCSS & the Author 2022

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