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Escobaria vivipara
Escobaria vivipara.   Synonym: Coryphantha vivipara. (Pincushion Cactus)
Cactaceae (Cactus Family)

Semi-desert. Woodlands, shrublands, openings. Summer.
Beautiful Mountain, Navajo Reservation, New Mexico, May 29, 2010.

In 1813 Thomas Nuttall named this species Cactus vivipara; in 1913 Briton and Rose renamed it Coryphantha vivipara; and in 1951 Buxbaum renamed it Escobaria vivipara.

"Koryphe" "anthos" is Greek for "summit" "flower".  "Escobaria" honors Rómulo and Numa Escobar, well known teachers and agronomists in 20th century Mexico. "Vivipara" is Latin for "brings forth alive" (see "Bistorta vivipara") but Escobaria vivipara is not viviparous and why the word was used to describe this plant is a mystery.  (Click for more biographical information about the Escobars.)

Click to see more Coryphantha vivipara images.

Escobaria vivipara

Escobaria vivipara.   Synonym: Coryphantha vivipara. (Pincushion Cactus)
Cactaceae (Cactus Family)

Semi-desert. Woodlands, shrublands, openings. Summer.
Beautiful Mountain, Navajo Reservation, New Mexico, May 29, 2010.

Coryphantha vivipara can easily be mistaken for Pediocactus simpsonii, especially when the two species are not in flower.  The fastest way to tell the two species apart is to poke a stick against one of the tubercles (the green, sausage-like, bumps) until you can see its side.   P. simpsonii has smooth tubercles; C. vivipara has a groove on one side of each tubercle, as you can see on the two tubercles in the lower right corner of the photograph. 

There are a number of other differences between the two species: C. vivipara tends to be colonial (as the photograph above indicates); tubercles tend to be separate; flowers arise from the axils of tubercles at the apex of the plant; spines may be hooked, curved, or straight; radial spines tend to be light colored with dark tips; central spines vary from light to dark colors; fruits are indehiscent.  Flowers are pink/purple/rose. 

P. simpsonii tends to be non-colonial (but it is common to find a number of plants of different ages near each other); tubercles tend to coalesce (especially as the plant ages); flowers arise from the edge of spine-bearing areoles in a woolly mass; spines may be straight or curved (but not hooked); radial spines are white; central spines are reddish brown; fruits are dehiscent. Flowers are white/pink, yellow/green.

 

Escobaria vivipara

Escobaria vivipara.   Synonym: Coryphantha vivipara. (Pincushion Cactus)
Cactaceae (Cactus Family)

Semi-desert. Woodlands, shrublands, openings. Summer.
McPhee Reservoir, July 13, 2010.

 

Range map © John Kartesz,
Floristic Synthesis of North America

State Color Key

Species present in state and native
Species present in state and exotic
Species not present in state

County Color Key

Species present and not rare
Species present and rare
Species extirpated (historic)
Species extinct
Species noxious
Species exotic and present
Native species, but adventive in state
Eradicated
Questionable presence

Coryphantha vivipara

Range map for Escobaria vivipara