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Nellie Cory Cactus Escobaria minima (Coryphantha minima)


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Nellie Cory Cactus
© U. S. Fish and Wildlife Service

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Alternate name: Bird's-foot Cactus

Family: Cactaceae, Cactus view all from this family

Description This tiny rare and endangered species, with a single stem and an oversize magenta flower, is found only in Brewster County, Texas.
Habit: succulent native perennial shrub.
Height: to 1 in (25 mm); may grow larger in cultivation.
Stem: spherical to cylindrical, spiny, 0.4-1 in (10-25 mm) tall, 0.25-1 in (6-25 mm) diameter; largest part of stem is buried.
Leaf: spine, flat, thick, corky, not sharp, pale tan to pinkish-gray, to 0.25 in (6 mm) long; clustered 15-28 per areole, usually flat against the stem, often with no central spines.
Flower: vase-shaped, bright pink to magenta to rose-purple, 1 in (25 mm) wide, 0.6 in (15 mm) tall.
Fruit: dry berry, green or yellow-green, round or barrel-shaped, to 0.25 in (6 mm) long and wide.

March to June.

Endangered Status The Nellie Cory Cactus is on the U.S. Endangered Species List. It is classified as endangered in Texas. Large numbers of this little cactus used to grow near roadways in the Chihuahuan Desert, where they were easily taken by cacti enthusiasts. Prized among these poachers for its beautiful flowers, the Nellie Cory Cactus has been so over-collected that it survives in only three locations, all on privately held land.

Habitat Quartz rock outcrops in Chihuahuan desert scrub at 3900-4600 ft (1200-1400 m); also cultivated as an ornamental.

Range Found only in Brewster County, Texas.

Also known as Nellie's pincushion cactus, birdfoot cactus. This plant is listed by Texas and the U.S. government as an endangered species.