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Escobaria vivipara (Spinystar)
Wasowski, Sally and Andy

Escobaria vivipara

Escobaria vivipara (Nutt.) Buxbaum

Spinystar, Common Beehive Cactus, Pincushion Cactus

Cactaceae (Cactus Family)


USDA Symbol: ESVI2

USDA Native Status: L48 (N), CAN (N)

Apart from some opuntia, Escobaria vivipara (formerly classed as Coryphantha vivipara) is the most widespread cactus in the US; the species has good frost tolerance and has adapted to a wide range of habitats, from Mexico all the way north to Canada, where it is one of only four cactus species in the country. The plant is somewhat unremarkable; a globe or small cylinder, generally less than 2 inches in diameter, single or forming low clusters of 20 more stems, their surface covered by pronounced tubercles bearing 10 to 40 white radial spines and 3 to 12 central spines, darker in color. The showy pink flowers make the cactus much more noticeable; they appear any time between spring and late summer, and are followed by green fruits.

Nipple Cactus (E. missouriensis) is very similar, differing in having a single central spine in each cluster, greenish-white flowers, and reddish fruit with black seeds; it occurs mostly east of the Rocky Mountains but grows westward to central Idaho, western Colorado, southern Utah, and northern Arizona.

Description provided courtesy of The American Southwest.


From the Image Gallery

3 photo(s) available in the Image Gallery

Plant Characteristics

Duration: Perennial
Habit: Cactus/Succulent
Fruit Type: Berry
Size Notes: Up to about 8 inches tall.

Bloom Information

Bloom Color: White , Pink , Yellow , Green , Purple
Bloom Time: Apr , May , Jun , Jul , Aug
Bloom Notes: Pale pink to magenta, sometimes with darker midstripes, sometimes shading to white or pale green.


USA: AZ , CA , CO , ID , KS , MN , MT , ND , NE , NM , NV , OK , OR , SD , TX , UT , WY
Canada: AB , MB , SK
Native Distribution: Central Canada south to southeastern Oregon and southeastern California, and east to Great Plains from Minnesota to western Texas; also in northern Mexico.
Native Habitat: Rocky, desert slopes and rocky or sandy soil among piņon, juniper, oaks, and Ponderosa Pine.

Web Reference

Webref 38 - Flora of North America (2019) Missouri Botanical Garden, St. Louis, MO & Harvard University Herbaria, Cambridge, MA.
Webref 23 - Southwest Environmental Information Network (2009) SEINet - Arizona Chapter
Webref 15 - The American Southwest (1994) John Crossley

Additional resources

USDA: Find Escobaria vivipara in USDA Plants
FNA: Find Escobaria vivipara in the Flora of North America (if available)
Google: Search Google for Escobaria vivipara


Record Modified: 2023-02-10
Research By: TWC Staff

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