This small, low-growing cactus is egg-shaped at first, later becoming cone-like, about 4 inches tall and almost 3 inches across. It often sprouts near the base, or even higher on the sides, to produce 2 or 3 branches. The surface is dull green and has several rows of pyramid-shaped tubercles about 1/2 inch high. There are 10–16 spines that are straight, rigid, and radiate outward, lying flat on the stem, and 1–4 spines in the center, 3/8–1 inch long, that project outward. These are black when young, fading to gray. The flowers are violet or violet–pink, 1–2 inches across, about 1 inch deep, and opening out widely. The petals are long and pointed and the stamens are yellow-orange. The fruit is round, yellowish or reddish, later turning brown.
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