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17 Impressive Types of Cacti in Mexico – An Overview With Pictures

Clump Barrel Cactus

As you’d imagine, there are many different cacti in Mexico. In fact, there are over 200 individual species, as well as several subspecies. This number only counts the native cacti in Mexico, not those that were introduced. Therefore, a visit to Mexico can easily introduce you to countless different cacti species.

Below, we’ve listed some of the larger species in Mexico, as well as provided some basic information about each one.

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The 17 Impressive Types of Cacti in Mexico

1. Acharagma

The Acharagma is a genus of cacti that contains two different species. These cacti are small and grow in tiny clusters usually by themselves. They have lots of spines and small flowers that grow from the top of the cacti. Often, the flowers range from cream to pink. Sometimes, yellow flowers are found, too.

2. Ariocarpus

Ariocarpus fissuratus2 ies
Ariocarpus fissuratus2_ies (Image Credit: Frank Vincentz, Wikimedia Commons CC SA 3.0 Unported)

This genus contains many different species, but they are very similar to each other. This cacti’s fruits resemble acorns, which is why it is named “acorn fruit” in Latin. It is found across a large range of Northern Mexico and into Texas.

However, in the wild, this plant is endangered and quite rare. They are very slow-growing, which explains partially why they are difficult to find.

3. Aztekium

This genus contains three different species of small, round cacti. This species was first discovered in 1929, largely because it is small and easy to miss. Usually, these plants have 9 to 11 ribs and range from pale green to grey-green. The flowers produced are white and pink and extremely small.

4. Barrel Cactus

Golden Barrel Cactus
Image Credit: abcLONG, Shutterstock

The Barrel Cactus is actually two different species of cacti. These cacti can get quite large, which is why they are more widely known than other plants. They can reach up to three feet tall when fully grown, though they have been known to reach up to 10 feet in some regions.

These plants are extremely long-lived and can live up to 100 years in some cases. The plants only flower once they are significantly mature and a few years in age. Usually, they bloom in April with bright yellow and orange flowers. However, red varieties can exist, as well.

5. Bergerocactus

This species of cactus is also known as the golden snake cactus and golden-spined cactus. It is a very small cactus that forms a dense bunch of thickets. The dense yellow spines give the cactus its name. In the early spring, yellow and green flowers emerge. These flowers then turn into reddish, round fruit.

6. Saguaro

Saguaro Cactus
Image Credit: Frauke Feind, Pixabay

The Saguaro cactus is the stereotypical, tall cactus. It is often described as “tree-like” and can grow up to 40 feet tall. It is native to the southern USA and parts of Mexico. In fact, the saguaro flower is the state flower of Arizona. Like most cacti, this one has a relatively long lifespan of 150 years. However, they grow very slowly. Usually, they don’t grow their first arm until they are over 75 years old! The plant absorbs rainwater and visibly expands as it does so. The extra arms help it absorb more water, which allows it to live through longer droughts.

7. Cephalocereus

This strange-looking cactus is very slow-growing and looks more hairy than spiny. Usually, these cacti grow into a column and appear blue-green. While there are over 114 described species of this cactus, only five have been accepted as “real” species. Usually, these cacti are branched. However, they can also grow unbranched.

8. Coryphantha

This cacti genus is very large with over 57 species and 20 subspecies. They are native to parts of Mexico and the southern USA. Some species can even be found up into Montana. These cacti do not have ribs. Instead, they have tubercles. The flowers grow on top of the plants and come in a wide variety of colors.

9. Cylindorpuntia

This type of cactus is quite tree-like and has many barbed spines. These spines attach to the skin very easily and don’t come off without removal. This plant also spreads in a strange manner. Many plants in the same area often have the same DNA. Therefore, they were likely originally all the same plant but spread through propagation.

10. Echinocactus

This subfamily of cacti means simply “spiny” in Latin. It has relatively small flowers and creates significantly woolly fruits. These are one of the few cacti that seem to spread largely through seeds, not propagation. They are relatively easy to grow and are widely grown for aesthetic purposes in Mexico.

11. Fishhook Cactus

This small cactus only grows to about 7 inches at the biggest. They are quite similar to the barrel cactus. However, they are smaller and have different features. Despite often being referred to as a singular type of cactus, this category actually contains 150 species.

This cactus can be found easily on the US-Mexico border and in the Mesa Verde National Park. Often, it is found growing in rocky locations.

12. Geohintonia

This genus was discovered by George S. Hinton, hence the name. This cactus is largely found in Mexico. It is a solitary plant that slowly grows into a column. However, it takes a very long time for a significant amount of growth to occur. The plant has extremely prominent ribs.

13. Grusonia

This plant can be found in the southwestern United States and into northern Mexico. It is also found in Baja California. The boundary of this species is somewhat debated, so it largely depends on who you ask.

14. Mammilloydia

This very strange species of cactus is often referred to as the “snowball cactus.” It is green and globe-shaped. However, the spines are white and very numerous. Therefore, the plant itself appears to be white and not green. It is also covered in fine white hairs, which add to this appearance. Some of the spines are slower to brown than white, though.

15. Myrtillocactus

With a name that translates to “blueberry cactus,” you would imagine that this cactus would be blue. However, that is not the case. This cactus actually looks quite ordinary. It is green and grows into a small column. In the summer, they do produce edible purple berries, which is likely where they got their name from.

16. Obregonia

This species of cactus is only found in the state of Tamaulipus in Mexico. The species was named after the minister of agriculture at the time of the species’ discovery. It is a rare species with an inverted pine cone in the center. It is also extremely woolly.

17. Opuntia

Also known as the prickly pear cactus, this cactus is very common and regularly grown for aesthetic reasons. It is completely edible and one of the few cacti commonly used in cooking. Therefore, it is often grown by people on top of being found in the wild.

•You might also like:What is Arizona’s State Flower and How Was It Decided?

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There are many species of cacti found in Mexico. Most of them are found in the northern part of the country. They come in all shapes and sizes and come in nearly 200 varieties. Most of these species belong to a few specific genera, though.

Therefore, by understanding the genera of cacti commonly found, you can identify most species—more or less. There are a few very common species and many rare species, which makes identifying the average cactus pretty easy.

Related read: 30 Types of Cacti in New Mexico (With Pictures)

Featured Image Credit: Gert-Jan van Vliet, Shutterstock

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