Astrophytum caput-medusae

Astrophytum caput-medusae


Astrophytum caput-medusae

Astrophytum caput-medusae is an unusual cactus with cylindrical and very reduced stem. The tubercles are cylindrical or occasionally…

Astrophytum Cactus Care

The needs of an Astrophytum cactus are the same as for other cacti—coarse, porous soil, and plenty of sunlight. While this cactus can be grown as a landscape garden specimen in the proper climate, it more commonly is used as a potted specimen for indoor growing or on decks and patios.

Astrophytums are not vigorous plants, and they require a lot of patience to reach their full potential. Keep regularly watering and feeding them during the growing season and repot annually to give them space to develop. They need a temperate, dry winter make sure not to overwater them, which can cause root rot. If given sufficient care, they will develop marvelous flowers once they reach maturity.

Watch out for common cactus pests like aphids and scale—these can often be taken care of by a good eco-friendly pesticide, or simply wiped away with a cloth.


Give Astrophytum cacti plenty of sunlight—at least 6 hours per day if growing outdoors. As a potted indoor plant, it can do fine in a window that gets direct sunlight or intense indirect light.

Like most cacti, these species need well-drained, fairly sandy soil and will likely perish in rich soils that retain moisture.


Despite their reputation as desert plants, many cacti, including the Astrophytum species, perform best if the soil gets a good drenching between periods where it dries out entirely. A potted plant should get a decent watering once a month during the growing season, but make sure the plant's roots don't sit in water. During the winter, watering can be less frequent.

Temperature and Humidity

These cacti like warm temperatures above 70 degrees Fahrenheit all summer, then slightly cooler, more temperate winter conditions. High humidity is not advised for these plants.


Fertilize during the growing season with a balanced, fertilizer, such as 20-20-20, mixed into the water.

Name Status Confi­dence level Source Date supplied
Digitostigma caput-medusae Velazco & Nevárez [Invalid] Synonym WCSP (in review) 2012-03-23

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Astrophytum caput-medusae - garden

Origin and Habitat: Mexico, Nuevo León (locality withheld) and may be in El Herrero, Tamaulipas.
Altitude range: This species occurs at elevations of 100 to 200 metres above sea level.
Habitat: This species grows among shrubs in the Matorral espinoso tamaulipeco (Tamaulipan thornscrub land) in shaded position. It is known from only one site, and within its very limited range it is reportedly abundant. The species is considered Critically Endangered due to its very limited distribution ( (Velazco & Nevárez) D.R.Hunt

  • Digitostigma caput-medusae Velazco & Nevárez

Description: Solitary or rarely clustered up to 19 of eight.
Stem: Very reduced, shortly cylindrical, lacking ribs, with papyraceous bristles covering the collar and the stem apex, the bristles probably originate from the basal rest of the tubercles, the colour of the bristles of tubercles is coffee whit reddish tones, the stem bristle of plants growing in habitat rarely exceed the ground level.
Tubercles: Cylindrical or occasionally triangular when young, of cartilaginous consistency, smooth, could appear similar in aspect to leaves, up to 190 mm in length and of 2 to 5 mm wide, some times the adaxial portion of the base of the tubercle is cuneate. Epidermis verrucose, glaucous-green, covered by stigmas (squamiform peltate trichomes) of a greyish-white colour, covering almost the totality of the epidermis towards the base of the the tubercle.
Areoles: Dimorphic the spiniferous one are terminals, circular or elliptical, with white wool the floriferous one are located in the adaxial subterminal portion, separated from the spiniferous from 18 to 46 mm elliptical, with white wool, but noticeably larger than the spiniferous areoles.
Spines: 0 up to 4, generally persisting in old tubercles, of 1 to 3 mm in length, semi-erect, rigid, the base is whitish with a dark-coffee apex.
Roots: Primary root fusiform, fleshy secondary roots fibrous. The root is of the same dimension or slightly smaller of the aerial part.
Flowers: Originates in the subterminal portion of the developing tubercles, not in the plant apex. The flowers are diurnal, yellow, with the base of the inner perianth segments orange coloured. Outer segments greenish yellow, The receptacular tube displays papyraceous, lanceolate scales, with terminal aristae and short white hairs in the axil Lanceolate scales with white hairs in the axil are also presents in the pericarpel.
Fruit: Green and fleshy when young, covered with lanceolate scales with wool in the axil, dry when ripe with irregular longitudinal dehiscence.
Seeds: Big, up to 3 mm in length, cap-like, testa tuberculate , black or dark coffee coloured hilum basal and very deep, micropyle, outside the hilum, but adjacent.

Subspecies, varieties, forms and cultivars of plants belonging to the Astrophytum caput-medusae group

  • Astrophytum caput-medusae" href='/Encyclopedia/CACTI/Family/Cactaceae/3593/Astrophytum_caput-medusae'> Astrophytum caput-medusae (Velazco & Nevárez) D.R.Hunt : has very thin tubercles, which are cartilaginous, smooth, similar to leaves, up to 190 mm in length and of 2 to 5 mm wide. Epidermis covered by stigmas. Distribution: Mexico, Nuevo León (locality withheld)
  • Astrophytum caput-medusae f. nudum" href='/Encyclopedia/CACTI/Family/Cactaceae/25784/Astrophytum_caput-medusae_f._nudum'> Astrophytum caput-medusae f. nudum hort. : nude form, tubercles dark glossy-green. Garden origin.

Notes: Astrophytum subg. Stigmatodactylus D. Hunt nom. nov. 2003 (?)
Holotype: Herbarium of the science faculty - biology U.A.N.L. (UNL-023704)
Isotype: Herbarium of the science faculty - biology U.A.N.L. (UNL-023705), other material examined UNL-023706, UNL-023707, UNL-023708.:
Author: M. Nevárez de los Reyes M. and C. Velazco Macías.
Type locality: Mexico, Nuevo León.
Date: August 28 2001.
Basionym: Digitostigma caput-medusae Velazco & Nevarez.
Original description in: VELAZCO, C.G. NEVAREZ, M. Cact. Suc. Mex. 47(4):76-86, 2002

Bibliography: Major references and further lectures
1) Gómez-Hinostrosa, C. & Hernández, H.M. 2013. Astrophytum caput-medusae. The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Version 2015.2. . Downloaded on 23 June 2015.
2) Guzmán, U., S. Arias y P. Dávila. "Catálogo de Cactáceas Mexicanas." UNAM, CONABIO. México D.F. 2003.
3) Kiesling, R. "Nomenclatura de Digitostigma caput-medusae (Cactaceae)". Cactáceas y suculentas mexicanas. 52(1):20-24, 2007
4) Velazco Macías, C.G. y M. Nevarez de los Reyes. "Nuevo género de la familia
Cactaceae en el estado de Nuevo León, México: Digitostigma caput-medusae Velazco et Nevarez sp. nov."
Cactáceas y suculentas mexicanas. 47(4): 76-86, 2002.
5) CONABIO 2010. "Medusita (Digitostigma caput-medusae)" Fichas de especies mexicanas. Comisión Nacional para el Conocimiento y Uso de la Biodiversidad y Comisión Nacional de Áreas Naturales Protegidas, México, D.F. Compilado por Carlos Gerardo Velazco Macías

A. Myriostigma and A. caput-medusae flowers. Photo kindly provided by Manuel Nevarez de los Reyes Photo by: Cactus Art
Astrophytum caput-medusae Photo by: Valentino Vallicelli
Astrophytum caput-medusae Photo by: Valentino Vallicelli
Astrophytum caput-medusae Photo by: Flavio Agrosi

Watch the video: كيف تطعيم استرو فايتوم كابوت ميدوسا how to grafting astrophytum caput medusae