Cephalocereus senilis, Cephalocereus, hairy cacti, hairy cactus, woolly cacti, cacti that have hair, hairy cactus plants,

Why do some Cacti have Hair ?

Hi Guys πŸ˜€ 

In todays article I am going to be talking about the hairy cacti and why do some Cacti have Hair ?

I have also made a very special video for my You Tube Channel called Desert Plants of Avalon on ‘Why do some Cacti have Hair ?’ and you can watch this video below or by clicking HERE:

We have all seen those hairy cacti that are often seen in Cactus growers collections and often sold for sale at most Cactus nurseries and garden shops, these hairy and wacky looking cactus plants are often called ‘old Man’ or ‘old Lady Cactus’ and you have one or two or more of these hairy cactus plants already in your collection, but have you ever wondered why these cactus plants have hair ? and why do only some cacti have hair and not the others ? 

Well in this article I will be explaining the reasons why, but first I am going to mention the most common types of Cacti that you often see that are ‘Hairy’.


Espostoa with lots of woven woolly hair
Espostoa with lots of woven woolly hair

Espostoa are a genus of columnar cacti and there is 16 different types if species that in their natural habitats come from the Andes of southern Ecuador and Peru. Espostoa grows at an altitude of between 800m and 2500m. The genus is named after Nicolas E. Esposto, a renowned botanist from Lim.



Cephalocereus senilis
Cephalocereus senilis with lots of wild and wacky white hair.

Cephalocereus are a genus of columnar cacti of which there is said to be over 100 different species but only 5 are accepted. Cephalocereus are native to central and southern Mexico, in its natural habitat it is threatened by extinction but is a very common cactus in cultivation. The genus  comes from the Greek word “kephale” meaning “head”and the Latin word”cereus”meaning “wax taper (a candle) or torch


Oreocereus produce white woolly hair
Oreocereus produce white woolly hair

Oreocereus are a genus of columnar cacti from high altitudes of the Andes in south America. This cactus is most commonly known as ‘The Old Man of the Andes’. The name Oreocereus means “mountain cereus”, formed from the Greek prefix oreo- and the New Latin ‘cereus’ meaning wax taper ( a candle) or torch.


Cleistocactus colademononis Cactus,Cleistocactus colademononis flowers, Cleistocactus colademononis blooms,
Cleistocactus colademononis in flower, this wacky Cactus produces lots of trailing stems full of white fluffy hair.
Cleistocactus Seedlings with woolly hair
Cleistocactus Seedlings with woolly hair.

Cleistocactus are mostly columnar Cacti native to the mountainous regions of South America. Although most Cleistocactus are columnar growers some Cleistocactus will be ‘hairy’ such as Cleistocactus colademononsis and Cleistocactus winterii these Cleistocacti are trailing cacti. Clesitocactus are found in Uruguay, Bolivia, Argentina, and Peru. The name Cleistocactus comes from the Greek ‘kleistos’ meaning closed due to the tubular flowers that do not open up like other cactus flowers and instead remain thin and tubular to attract small humming birds as well as bees to pollinate the flowers. 

5, MAMMILLARIA ( some but not all ) 

Mammillaria bocasana Cactus, Mammillaria bocasana flowers, hairy cacti, hairy cactus hairy Mammillarias,
The Mammillaria bocasana cactus produces white fluffy hair.
Mammillaria glassii with white fluffy hair in stunning pink bloom
Mammillaria glassii with white fluffy hair in stunning pink bloom, 

Mammillarias are small cacti often globular or short with cylindrical stems growing either soliatory or in clumps ( pups ) Some Mammillaria will be ‘hairy’ like the Mammillaria bocasana and Mammillaria glassii and Mammillaria Senilis. Mammillaria are the largest genus of the Cactus family, there are around 250 different species of Mammillarias that come from Mexico and in southwest USA.  The name Mammillaria comes from Latin mammilla meaning “nipple”, referring to the tubercles that are a very distinctive feature of the genus. 

So then Why Do Some Cacti have Hair ? 

Cacti produce hair to protect themselves from the elements in their natural habitats, including the harsh intense suns rays and also to protect themselves from the cold nights that can sometimes drop to below freezing, the difference in cultivation is that these Cacti would not be exposed to such extreme temperature drops from over 100F during the day to below zero at night, well hopefully not in our homes and greenhouses anyway haha.

Cactus Plants that don’t produce hair or only produce very little hair are Cactus plants that can tolerate the harsh sunshine levels or they may grow naturally in their habitats surrounded and sheltered by vegetation that protect them.

Some cacti also produce hair to capture what little moisture and dew may be in the air especially in the early mornings, some Cacti can actually absorb water from the hair-like wool and needles.

There are some species of Cacti that don’t have hair on their plant bodies will produce hair when they are producing flower buds, Cactus varieties such as Echinopsis and Trichocereus will do this, they produce the hair on their buds to protect the developing bud from excess sun.

Other Cacti like Pilosocereus and other types of columnar Cacti from all over South America, develop the woolly/ hairy, β€œcephalium” when they have reached maturity to flower, they produce this woolly hair at the area where the Cactus is going to bloom, the ‘hairy’ cephalium helps to protect the developing buds from harsh intense sunshine.

There are also some other Genus of Cacti that produce white hair too such as some of the Opuntia ‘Prickly Pear Cacti like Opuntia Polyacantha erinacea  

Some Cacti produce 'Hairy' buds
Some Cacti like Echinopsis produce ‘hairy’ buds, this hair helps to protect the developing buds from strong sunshine.
Pilosocereus produce white hair when they are mature enough to flower
Pilosocereus columnar Cacti produce a Cephalium with white hair when they are mature enough to flower, this woolly Cephalium helps to protect future buds from the strong intense sunshine.

Is Cactus Hair really Hair ?

Cactus hair may look like hair and even feel like hair but is Cactus hair really hair ? well the answer to this is no, and that is because real hair as in Human and animal hair is made up of a protein called ‘Keratin’ and Cactus hair is actually modified spines that develop from a group of cells called ‘Spine Primordia’

But what if my Cactus isn’t meant to be hairy but has bits of white woolly hair on it ? 

Now if you are sure that your cactus is not one of these ‘hairy’ ones then you may have a problem and thats because there is something else that can be mistaken for hair and that is the dreaded Mealy Bug ‘Beasties’, these pests will produce white woolly nests on your cactus plants and love to hide their woolly nests in between the spines and often on the areoles ( the area where spines emerge ) where they are very hide to see, if mealy bugs are the reason your none hairy cactus is suddenly getting ‘hairy’ then you will need to take immediate action and isolate the cactus/s from your other collection and remove any bugs and their woolly nests with rubbing alcohol and a brush and treat with either repeated weekly treatments with horticultural Neem oil mixed with a horticultural soap or use a Systemic insecticide for dealing with Mealy Bugs. If you have a greenhouse/polytunnel you can also use the predatory mite Ladybug called Cryptolaemus montrouzieri, but these predatory Ladybugs need a warm tropical temperature of at least 16c / 60F to reproduce, but these predatory Cryptolaemus montrouzieri Ladybugs can still be very effective against Mealy Bugs if they are used during the warm Summer months in a greenhouse /glasshouse /polytunnel. I have made a video on my Cactus and Succulent You Tube Channel called Desert Plants of Avalon on How to treat Mealy Bugs on Cactus, including a special video on ‘How to treat Mealy Bugs on very hairy and or spiny Cacti‘ and you can watch this video by clicking HERE:   

Mealy Bugs on a Ferocactus
Mealy Bugs on a Ferocactus, If you notice woolly nests on your none ‘Hairy’ cactus it could be Mealy Bugs and you need to act fast.

I hope you enjoyed this Article on ‘Hairy Cactus plants’ and if you don’t have any hairy cacti in your collection then why not add one of these beauties to your collection.

If you want to have a look at the different types of ‘Hairy’ Cacti that I have in my Cactus Collection then please do check out the video below that I have made for my You Tube Channel called Desert Plants of Avalon.

If you have always wondered why Cacti have Spines ? then please do check out the video I have made for my You Tube Channel called Desert Plants of Avalon on ‘Why do Cacti have Spines ? ‘

For lots more Tips and Tricks on How you can care for and grow your Cacti and Succulents then please do check out my You Tube Channel called Desert Plants of Avalon and please do Subscribe πŸ˜€ 




Myrtillocactus geometrizans cv. Fukurokuryuzinboku, Myrtillocactus geometrizans

How To Care for Myrtillocactus geometrizans ‘Fukurokuryuzinboku’ The Booby Cactus

Hi Guys πŸ˜€ In this Cactus care Blog I am talking about the very unusual and very wacky and yes a little bit naughty of a cactus called Myrtillocactus geometrizans var. ‘Fukurokuryuzinboku’ also known as ‘The Booby Cactus’ 

I have made a special How To Care for video on Myrtillocactus geometrizans var. ‘Fukurokuryuzinboku‘ also known as ‘The Booby Cactus’ on my You Tube Channel called Desert Plants of Avalon and I have linked the care video at the end of this Blog πŸ˜€ 

Myrtillocactus geometrizans cv. Fukurokuryuzinboku, Myrtillocactus geometrizans
Myrtillocactus geometrizans, Myrtillocactus geometrizans cv. Fukurokuryuzinboku, also known as Blue Candle Booby cactus, Breast Cactus, Titty Cactus.


Myrtillocactus geometrizans Fukurokuryuzinboku is a monstrose cultivar of the more commonly seen Myrtillocactus geometrizans, but this Cactus has more unusual shaped ribs along with areoles that resemble nipples making this cactus appear like it has little breasts in appearance, this is why this cactus is often nicknamed as ‘The Booby Cactus’ or ‘Titty Cactus’.

Myrtillocactus geometrizans Fukurokuryuzinboku is a rare plant to find for sale and is only available from specialist cactus nurseries and online cactus nurseries but is now becoming more popular to grow in cultivation, it is definitely one of the more expensive cactus plants to buy.

It is a Japanese cultivar that can grow up to 4.5 metres high ( 178 inches ) and 10 cm wide in diameter ( 4 inches ).


This cactus definitely like a nice sunny spot, however when these plants are still young ( less than 3 inches in height ) or if taken as cuttings they are best placed in a less sunnier position, however when cuttings have fully rooted and the plant is taller than 3 inches in height they love to be placed in a sunny position as long as ventilation can be provided. If grown on a very sunny south facing window in the middle of summer then a shade cloth may be placed over the window to allow indirect sunshine onto the plant this will prevent scorch or yellowing of the stem.


A very well draining cactus soil is an absolute must for these cacti as soil that stays wet for too long will encourage rot, a good quality well draining cactus and succulent soil mix is to be used and not any other type of houseplant soil. I like to make my own cactus soil up for these cacti and use a mix of 3 equal parts of Loam, Horticultural sharp sand, and Grit. Here is a video I have made for my You Tube Channel called Desert Plants of Avalon on How I make my own cactus soil and you can watch this video below:


From Spring until mid Fall / Autumn these cacti love to be watered very regularly always allowing the soil in their pots to fully dry out first before watering them again, this is a better guide I like to give to people because when it comes to watering all cacti, one size does not fit all haha, as it can depend on many different factors for example the temperature, the climate etc, but as a good rule of thumb during their active growing period of Spring until mid Fall I recommend to water every time the soil in their pots has fully dried out.

In Winter these cacti like to have a winter rest period and no water should be given from late Fall / Autumn  until Spring. Its normal for these cacti to shrivel as they use up their water stores during winter and their little ‘breasts’ will start to shrivel haha ‘however if you are overwintering your cactus indoors in a heated room and notice that the cactus is looking a bit too shrivelled you can go ahead and water just enough to plump up the plant again, but avoid doing this if growing your cactus in a cooler environment e.g a greenhouse or polytunnel etc, due to the cooler temperatures and higher air humidity levels of a greenhouse or polytunnel or other outdoor structure, its better a few wrinkly ‘boobs’ than  rotten ones haha, and your cactus will soon plump back up again in Spring when normal watering resumes.

Clean Rainwater is always best if you have access to it, but if not then let your tap water sit for 24 hours to help to dissipate some of the chemicals that are present in tap water.


From spring and Summer feed these cacti once every 3 weeks with a good quality cactus and succulent fertiliser. Do not feed at all in Winter when these plants are resting.


Myrtillocactus geometrizans Fukurokuryuzinboku can not take frost and in Winter this cactus must be kept above 10 Celsius / 50 Fahrenheit, many growers would recommend that they can take lower than this if kept totally dry over winter but personally I would not recommend it as Myrtillocactus has a tendency to scar and scab and at the worst case rot in low temperatures during the Winter months when they are dormant, especially in my climate in Ireland and the UK where the air humidity is very high outdoors in winter, if you live in a more arid winter environment and country then its possible these plants can take lower temps in Winter but avoid frost at all costs.

During the Spring and Summer these cacti can take very high temperatures as long as plenty of ventilation can be given. If growing behind glass, e.g in a sunny window or greenhouse or conservatory, sun room etc, then windows must be open or and a fan / doors etc for ventilation during very hot and sunny days.

Myrtillocactus geometrizans, Myrtillocactus geometrizans cv. Fukurokuryuzinboku, Blue Candle Booby cactus,Cactus, Breast Cactus, Titty Cactus,
Myrtillocactus geometrizans, Myrtillocactus geometrizans cv. Fukurokuryuzinboku, Blue Candle Booby cactus,Cactus, Breast Cactus, Titty Cactus,


Its best to re pot these cacti during their active growing period in Spring and Summer and only when the plant has outgrown its pot, as with all cacti its far better to under pot rather than over pot because too much soil around their roots can stay damp for too long and may encourage the chances of root rot.


Myrtillocactus geometrizans Fukurokuryuzinboku will bloom when mature from about 60 cm tall in height ( 24 inches ) The flowers form in Spring and are small white flowers.


Propagation of Myrtillocactus geometrizans Fukurokuryuzinboku is from cuttings taken in Spring and Summer. Cuttings need to fully dry ( callus ) over for a couple of weeks or more until a hard white callus has formed at the base of the cut before planting up as cuttings. Cuttings of these cacti need very warm weather above 18 Celsius / 65 Fahrenheit to root for the best success, additional heat with a heat mat can help with rooting these cuttings if your Summers are cool and damp like mine in Ireland and UK.

Seed propagation of Myrtillocactus geometrizans Fukurokuryuzinbokus is not recommend, this is because this cactus is a monstrose variety of the original Myrtillocactus geometrizans and any seeds germinated will grow as normal Myrtillocactus geometrizans cactus plants and will not grow with the little ‘breasts’.

I have made a video for my You Tube Channel called Desert Plants of Avalon on How to care for Myrtillocactus geometrizans Fukurokuryuzinboku aka The Booby Cactus and you can watch this video below :

I hope you enjoyed reading and learning lots about this very bizarre and wacky cactus.

Check out my Cacti and Succulent You Tube Channel called Desert Plants of Avalon for lots more tips and tricks on many different types of cacti and succulents and also for lots more info on how you can care for your Cacti and Succulents.

Thanks so much for reading and sending you all lots of HAPPY GROWING.