T. subterraneus is one of the most fascinating and unusual cacti.
It has a tuberous root from which arises an extremely thin neck, ending
in an enlarged top-shaped plant body, there is little chance of the thin
neck support the stem vertically.
Description: Usually solitary, club-shaped
cactus, up to 150 mm high, 30 mm wide, green-bluish. The stem is
typically prostrate, flaring out after a very long slender neck that
separates the large tuberose root from the enlarged apical part of the
plant; woolly apex
Spines: Radials 16-19, radiating horizontally, glassy white,
2-6mm long. Centrals 2 straight, erect, blackish-grey, 20-23mm long, one
erect, the other on sideways.
Flowers: Whitish to pinkish-magenta, with pink or brown midstripe, in summer,
20-25 mm long, 30 mm wide.
Fruits: Greenish-brown, small, relatively dry, and
NOTE: The variety
'zaragozae' of this species (or perhaps an independent species) does
not posess the thin 'neck'.
Cultivation: It’s a fairly easy species to cultivate but quite prone
to rot, especially after the first flowering. It needs a very well
drained soil, and requires strong sun to part sun. Waterings should be
rather infrequent to keep the plant compact, and avoid it becoming
excessively elongated and unnatural in appearance. Keep dry in winter,
or when night temperatures remain below 10° C. It is hardy to -4°C for
a short period. Assure a good ventilation.
It can generate new shoots from the tuber if the original stem is
Photo of conspecific taxa, varieties, forms and
cultivars of the
(This taxon has lots of synonyms
with several controversial varieties and
name: Turbinicarpus subterraneus (Backeb.) A. D. Zimmerman
Conservation status: Listed in
CITES Appendix I
Origin: It is a restricted micro-endemic species scattered in small
populations in the municipalities of Aramberri, Doctor Arroyo and Mier y
Noriega in the state of Nuevo Leon (Mexico)
- Gymnocactus subterraneus (Backeb.)
- Neolloydia subterranea (Backeb.)
H. E. Moore
- Rapicactus subterraneus (Backeb.)
Buxb. & Oehme
- Thelocactus subterraneus (Backeb.)
Backeb. & F. M. Knuth
- Turbinicarpus mandragora ssp.
subterraneus (Backeberg) J. Lüthy
- Pediocactus subterraneus
Turbinicarpus subterraneus P362 (Escondido) Young seedlings
Photo and ©
Mladen Turcinovic (Croatia)
A white flowering
specimen ( Hybrid ? )
and © copyright by Andrea (Bologna, Italy)