Escobaria minima (Nellie Cory Cactus) is a small cactus with rounded stems that grow up to 1 inch (2.5 cm) tall and up to 0.7 inches (1.8…
|Name||Status||Confidence level||Source||Date supplied|
|Coryphantha minima Baird||Synonym||WCSP (in review)||2012-03-23|
|Coryphantha nellieae Croizat||Synonym||WCSP (in review)||2012-03-23|
|Escobaria nellieae (Croizat) Backeb.||Synonym||WCSP (in review)||2012-03-23|
|Mammillaria nellieae (Croizat) Croizat||Synonym||TRO||2012-04-18|
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Escobaria minima (syn. Coryphantha minima) is a rare species of cactus known by the common names Nellie cory cactus, Nellie's pincushion cactus, birdfoot cactus, and others. It is a very popular species among cactus collectors. This is one reason why it is a highly endangered species in the wild today.  This cactus is found only in Brewster County, Texas, in the United States, where there are three populations remaining near Marathon.   The cactus is limited to one outcrop in the Marathon Uplift, where it grows in rocky novaculite soils.   It was added to the endangered species list in 1979. 
|Family:||Cactaceae (kak-TAY-see-ee) (Info)|
|Genus:||Escobaria (es-koh-BAR-ree-uh) (Info)|
|Species:||minima (MIN-eh-muh) (Info)|
Drought-tolerant suitable for xeriscaping
Average Water Needs Water regularly do not overwater
USDA Zone 9a: to -6.6 °C (20 °F)
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)
Can be grown as an annual
Plant has spines or sharp edges use extreme caution when handling
Allow cut surface to callous over before planting
From seed sow indoors before last frost
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
This plant is said to grow outdoors in the following regions:
On Dec 27, 2010, dave12122 from East Haddam, CT wrote:
This could be a Zone 6 plant, but is very prone to rotting if the soil is wet in the winter or early Spring. Cold temperatures alone do not seem to bother it, but the combination of wet soil and cold can be deadly. The flowers are relativley large considering the size of the plant. This certainly is worth a gamble.
On Sep 7, 2006, frostweed from Josephine, Arlington, TX (Zone 8a) wrote:
Birdfoot Cactus, Nellie Cory Cactus Escobaria minima, is Endemic to Texas and is classified as an Endangered species.
Accepted Scientific Name: Escobaria minima (Baird) D.R.Hunt
Cact. Succ. J. Gr. Brit. 40(2): 30 (1978)
Origin and Habitat: Chihuahuan desert in the USA, they are found from only three populations, all in a tiny area of Brewster County, Texas.
Habitat: Grows in desert grassland, usually among the chips of weathered and physically fractured Caballos Novaculite rock (a quartz-like material). This species is now known only from three small sites
Description: It is a tiny cactus with rounded, single stems up to 2,5cm tall and 6-17 mm wide, occasionally with a short tap root tubercles 2 to 4 mm wide. A cultivated plant can be slightly larger, and clumped .
Spines: The plant is crowded with thick, corky, white spines (1 to 4 centrals, 4 to 6 mm long 13 to 23 radials, 3.5 to 5 mm long)
Flowers: Numerous, pink, up to 2.5 cm in diameter, 1.5 cm long. The flowers are easy to pollinate, and produce around thirty seeds per fruit.
Blooming season: It blooms in several flushes, primarily in May, but the blooming period lasts from March until June.
Fruit: It produces ovoid, green fruit (1.5-5 cm long) that ripens from June to October.
Remarks: Escobaria minima and Escobaria hesteri (From an adjacent hill) are two miniature plant which resemble dwarf races of Escobaria vivipara, to wich they shares some characteristic, but much smaller in all parts. They can survive to –25°C in dry-winter regions.
Bibliography: Major references and further lectures
1) Flora of North America Editorial Committee. “Flora of North America, volume 4” Oxford University Press, New York. 2003.
2) Zimmerman, A.D. “Systematics of the genus Coryphantha (Cactaceae).” Dissertation, University of Texas, Austin. 1985
3)Castetter, E.F., P. Pierce and K.H. Schwerin. “A reassessment of the genus Escobaria” in: Cactus and Succulent Journal (U.S.) 47:60-70. 1975
4) Edward Anderson “The Cactus family” Timber Press, Incorporated, 2001
5) James Cullen, Sabina G. Knees, H. Suzanne Cubey "The European Garden Flora Flowering Plants: A Manual for the Identification of Plants Cultivated in Europe, Both Out-of-Doors and Under Glass" Cambridge University Press, 11/Aug/2011
6) David R Hunt Nigel P Taylor Graham Charles International Cactaceae Systematics Group. "The New Cactus Lexicon" dh books, 2006
Cultivation and Propagation: Very slow-growing, but easy to cultivate. Water regularly in summer, but do not over-water. It prefers a completely dry place during winter with much drainage. An unheated greenhoouse would be perfect. It can survive low temperatures (appr. -12 C). Full sun to light shade
Propagation: Easy to propagate from seed, cuttings and grafting.