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Epithelantha bokei (Pingpong Ball Cactus)

Epithelantha bokei (Pingpong Ball Cactus)


Scientific Name

Epithelantha bokei L.D. Benson

Common Names

Pingpong Ball Cactus, Button Cactus, Boke's Button Cactus

Synonyms

Epithelantha micromeris subsp. bokei

Scientific Classification

Family: Cactaceae
Subfamily: Cactoideae
Tribe: Cacteae
Subtribe: Cactinae
Genus: Epithelantha

Description

Epithelantha bokei is a cactus with disc-shaped, short cylindrical or cylindrical stems thickly covered in white or yellowish spines. The stems are usually unbranched and grow up to 2 inches (5 cm) tall. Flowers are pale pink, up to up to 0.7 inches (1.8 cm) long with an equal diameter. Edible fruits are smooth, bright red, and 0.4 inches (1 cm) long. In its native habitat, much of the plant is located below ground, with a few centimeters above. It contracts into the ground during dry periods.

Hardiness

USDA hardiness zones 9b to 11b: from 25 °F (−3.9 °C) to 50 °F (+10 °C).

How to Grow and Care

To encourage better flowering, allow the plants to enjoy a cooling period in the winter and suspend watering. Unlike many other cacti, which use their ribs as storage devices, Mammillaria feature raised tubercles, from which spines emerge. When you water, the tubercles will expand to allow for increased water storage. The flowers appear from these tubercles' axils on the previous year's growth, which accounts for their interesting halo effect. The cactus mustn't be exposed to prolonged dampness and sitting water. Never let your cactus sit in a dish of water. Lastly, make sure to fertilize during the growing season for the best results.

Repot as needed, preferably during the warm season. To repot Mammillaria, make sure the soil is dry before repotting, then gently remove the pot. Knock away the old soil from the roots, making sure to remove any rotted or dead roots in the process. Treat any cuts with a fungicide. Place the plant in its new pot and backfill with potting soil, spreading the roots out as you repot. Leave the plant dry for a week or so, then begin to water lightly to reduce the risk of root rot.

Learn more at How to Grow and Care for Mammillaria.

Origin

Epithelantha bokei is naive to Texas in the United States and Coahuila in Mexico.

Links

  • Back to genus Epithelantha
  • Succulentopedia: Browse succulents by Scientific Name, Common Name, Genus, Family, USDA Hardiness Zone, Origin, or cacti by Genus

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Epithelantha bokei

Epithelantha bokei is a species of cactus known by the common names pingpong ball cactus and button-cactus. It is native to Texas in the United States and Coahuila in Mexico. [1]

This cactus is disc-shaped or cylindrical and usually unbranched. It has a flat top. It usually measures 2 to 5 centimeters in width. It is so thickly covered in pale-colored spines that it is white or yellowish in color. There are up to 90 on each areole. The longest are about 7 millimeters in length. The delicate pale pink [2] flowers are up to 1.7 centimeters long and wide. [1] The red fruit is about a centimeter long. [2] Much of the plant is located below ground, with a few centimeters above. It contracts into the ground during dry periods. [2]

This cactus grows on rocky or gravelly limestone substrates. Threats to the species include poaching and habitat degradation. It is in cultivation at the Desert Botanical Garden in Phoenix, Arizona. [2]

The specific epithet honors Norman H. Boke, plant anatomist and student of the Cactaceae. [3]


Epithelantha bokei (Pingpong Ball Cactus) - garden

Accepted Scientific Name: Epithelantha bokei L.D.Benson
Cact. Succ. J. (Los Angeles) 41: 185, fig. 1969

Origin and Habitat: Chihuahuan Desert of South Texas, in Brewster/Sanderson County and northern Mexico in Coahuila and Chihuahua.
Habitat: Epithelantha bokei is an edaphic specialist growing in dense groups on very specific calcareous strata on raised limestone hills and ledges in xerophyllous scrub. It is locally abundant and it grows in many inaccessible areas, however some subpopulations are threatened by illegal collection.

Description: It is a is a slow-growing mini cactus (usually solitary), with only 2-3 cm of stem height, covered so densely with closely appressed tiny white spines that the plants appear to be completely white and smooth to the touch.
Flower: Flowers are pale pink or yellowish, very delicate, appearing in July.
Fruits: Fruits are smooth, approximately 1 cm long, bright red, edible and enjoyed by birds.
Remarks: In periods when water is available it is an almost completely rounded cactus. In drought periods, and during winter rest, plants shrinks and draw back down to ground level, to conserve moisture.

Subspecies, varieties, forms and cultivars of plants belonging to the Epithelantha bokei group


Epithelantha bokei f. cristata Photo by: Valentino Vallicelli
Epithelantha bokei f. cristata Photo by: Flavio Agrosi
Epithelantha bokei f. cristata Photo by: Flavio Agrosi

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Cultivation and Propagation: Although regarded as a choice and difficult plant, in cultivation it is relatively easy, but very slow growing.. These plants need very coarse potting soil that drains well (rot prone). Waterings should be rather infrequent, to keep the plant compact and not become excessively elongated or unnatural in appearance.
Frost Tolerance: Depending on the variety, it will take -5° C (or less) (Temperature Zone: USDA 8-11).
Sun Exposure: It requires strong sun to part sun to develop good spinal growth, but some summer shade in the hottest hours of the day is beneficial. Assure a good ventilation.
Propagation: Grafting or cuttings.


Epithelantha Species, Boke's Button Cactus, Pingpong Ball Cactus, Smooth Button Cactus

Category:

Water Requirements:

Drought-tolerant suitable for xeriscaping

Average Water Needs Water regularly do not overwater

Sun Exposure:

Foliage:

Foliage Color:

Height:

Spacing:

Hardiness:

USDA Zone 9b: to -3.8 °C (25 °F)

USDA Zone 10a: to -1.1 °C (30 °F)

USDA Zone 10b: to 1.7 °C (35 °F)

USDA Zone 11: above 4.5 °C (40 °F)

Where to Grow:

Can be grown as an annual

Danger:

Bloom Color:

Bloom Characteristics:

Bloom Size:

Bloom Time:

Other details:

Soil pH requirements:

Patent Information:

Propagation Methods:

From seed direct sow after last frost

Seed Collecting:

Allow unblemished fruit to ripen clean and dry seeds

Unblemished fruit must be significantly overripe before harvesting seed clean and dry seeds

Properly cleaned, seed can be successfully stored

Regional

This plant is said to grow outdoors in the following regions:

Gardeners' Notes:

On Jun 12, 2005, leeann6 from Kermit, TX (Zone 7b) wrote:

The Boke button cactus is very similar to the common button cactus but has a smoother, tidier overall image. The tiny flatly appressed spines present a satiny appearance. The pinkish flowers barely exceed 1/4" in diameter. This button cactus was named for Dr Norman H. Boke, University of Oklahoma, who collected it first in 1955.


Epithelantha bokei

Scientific Name: Epithelantha bokei L. D. Benson 1969

Synonyms: Epithelantha micromeris(Engelm.) A. Weber ex Britt. & Rose var. bo c kei (L. Benson) Glass & Foster

Common name (s) : “Boke's button cactus ", “smooth button”, “pingpong ball cactus

Listed in CITES Appendix II

Distribution: Chihuahuan Desert of South Texas , in Brewster/Sanderson County and northern Mexico
Habitat: Grows in dense groups on rocky, gravely soils on flat areas, raised limestone hills and ledges .

Morphology (Identifying Characteristics):
Habit: It is a is a slow-growing mini cactus (usually solitary), with only 2-3 cm of stem height, covered so densely with closely appressed tiny white spines that the plants appear to be completely white and smooth to the touch.
Flower: Flowers are pale pink or yellowish, very delicate, appearing in July.
Fruit: Fruits are smooth, approximately 1 cm long, bright red , edible and enjoyed by birds.



(Photo & © Copyright by Massimo Giannelli Italy E-mail: [email protected] )
Spines


Epithelantha bokei MK 29 . 105 S of Cuatro Cienegas , Coahuila


Cultivation: Although regarded as a choice and difficult plant , in cultivation it is relatively easy , but very slow growing. . These plants need very coarse potting soil that drains well (rot prone). Waterings should be rather infrequent, to keep the plant compact and not become excessively elongated or unnatural in appearance.
Frost Tolerance: Depending on the variety, it will take -5° C (or less) (Temperature Zone: USDA 8-11 )
Sun Exposure: It requires strong sun to part sun to develop good spinal growth, but some summer shade in the hottest hours of the day is beneficial. Assure a good ventilation.

Propagation: It can be reproduced both by seeds and cuttings, but it is often grafted because difficult and slow to grow on its own roots. Older specimens shoot tiller s from under tubercles, so they can be grafted, which is a much easier way of propagation than sowing. Young seedlings are tiny and they need several years to reach adult size , and require careful watering.


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