Sclerocactus papyracanthus

Sclerocactus papyracanthus

Sclerocactus papyracanthus
Conservation status

Apparently Secure (NatureServe)
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Plantae
(unranked): Angiosperms
(unranked): Eudicots
(unranked): Core eudicots
Order: Caryophyllales
Family: Cactaceae
Subfamily: Cactoideae
Tribe: Cacteae
Genus: Sclerocactus
Species: S. papyracanthus
Binomial name
Sclerocactus papyracanthus

Echinocactus papyracanthus
Mammillaria papyracantha
Pediocactus papyracanthus
Toumeya papyracantha

Sclerocactus papyracanthus is a species of cactus known by the common names grama grass cactus, paper-spined cactus, and toumeya. It is native to North America, where it occurs from Arizona to New Mexico to Texas and into Mexico.

This small cactus grows up to 8 centimeters tall by 2.5 wide. It is covered in so many spines they obscure the stems beneath. They are white, tan, or gray in color, papery in texture, and sometimes twisted or wavy in shape. The flower is up to 2.5 centimeters long and have light-colored outer tepals with dark midstripes. The fruit is green and dry at maturity.

This plant grows in pinyon-juniper woodland and desert grassland habitat, usually amidst grama grass (Bouteloua spp.), especially blue grama (Bouteloua gracilis). It is often hard to see the cactus because its spines look like the leaves of the grass.


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