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Purple Pincushion, Common Ball Cactus, Beehive Cactus

Escobaria vivipara

Family: Cactaceae (kak-TAY-see-ee) (Info)
Genus: Escobaria (es-koh-BAR-ree-uh) (Info)
Species: vivipara (vy-VIP-ar-uh) (Info)
Synonym:Escobaria vivipara var. vivipara
Synonym:Coryphantha oklahomensis
Synonym:Mammillaria vivipara
Synonym:Echinocactus viviparus
Synonym:Coryphantha vivipara


Cactus and Succulents

Water Requirements:

Drought-tolerant; suitable for xeriscaping

Average Water Needs; Water regularly; do not overwater

Sun Exposure:

Full Sun

Sun to Partial Shade

Light Shade


Unknown - Tell us

Foliage Color:

Unknown - Tell us


under 6 in. (15 cm)


6-9 in. (15-22 cm)


USDA Zone 4a: to -34.4 C (-30 F)

USDA Zone 4b: to -31.6 C (-25 F)

USDA Zone 5a: to -28.8 C (-20 F)

USDA Zone 5b: to -26.1 C (-15 F)

USDA Zone 6a: to -23.3 C (-10 F)

USDA Zone 6b: to -20.5 C (-5 F)

USDA Zone 7b: to -14.9 C (5 F)

USDA Zone 8a: to -12.2 C (10 F)

USDA Zone 8b: to -9.4 C (15 F)

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)

Where to Grow:

Can be grown as an annual


Plant has spines or sharp edges; use extreme caution when handling

Bloom Color:

Magenta (pink-purple)

Fuchsia (red-purple)

Bloom Characteristics:

Unknown - Tell us

Bloom Size:

Unknown - Tell us

Bloom Time:

Late Spring/Early Summer

Other details:

Soil pH requirements:

6.1 to 6.5 (mildly acidic)

6.6 to 7.5 (neutral)

7.6 to 7.8 (mildly alkaline)

Patent Information:


Propagation Methods:

From woody stem cuttings

Allow cut surface to callous over before planting

From seed; direct sow after last frost

Seed Collecting:

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 has been said to grow in the following regions:

Phoenix, Arizona

Greenwood, Arkansas

Golden, Colorado

Canton, Connecticut

East Haddam, Connecticut

Pinconning, Michigan

Lindstrom, Minnesota

Lincoln, Nebraska

Elephant Butte, New Mexico

Lawton, Oklahoma

Kermit, Texas

South Jordan, Utah

Kennewick, Washington

show all

Gardeners' Notes:


On Dec 27, 2010, dave12122 from East Haddam, CT wrote:

A very dependable plant for Eastern Hardy Cactus growers. Needs dry soil, can rot if too wet at any time of the year. However, remarkably tolerant of cold, snow, ice, etc. The flowers are lovely, like pink silk.


On Oct 15, 2009, filmo70 from Canton, CT wrote:

This plant is pretty much unkillable. It's survived 126 inches of precipitation since I planted it 25 months ago. The cold snowy and wet winters here have done in some hardy Opuntias I've tried but not this little guy. Flowers readily in June.


On Mar 17, 2008, angele wrote:

This cactus is found growing in the wild in Sierra County New Mexico. I know it by the common name Spiny Star. There are a couple growing in my cactus garden that bloom just beautifully.


On Mar 25, 2007, peachespickett from Huntington, AR wrote:

Planted in raised bed about 75% sand, 25% gravel here in Western Arkansas. Came through summer humidity and a soaking wet(25+inches in 2 months), freezing rain/snow/minor ice storm winter perfectly unscathed and now getting ready to flower.


On Mar 3, 2007, Xenomorf from Phoenix, AZ (Zone 9b) wrote:

Another synonym of this plant is Cactus vivipara


On Jun 7, 2005, leeann6 from Kermit, TX (Zone 7b) wrote:

The stems of the spiny star may be solitary, but they are commonly branched, sometimes forming mounds. The individual stems are egg-shaped to cylindrical and up to about 5 to 6" long. The spines are very dense, obscuring the stems, and are whitish tipped with brown.

The flowers may be pinkish to purple and up to about 1.5" across. They bloom from June through August. The green fruits are about 1" long.


On Jun 7, 2005, darylmitchell from Saskatoon, SK (Zone 3a) wrote:

The new taxonomic designation is Escobaria vivipara. It is a very cold-hardy cactus and can be found in Canada from British Columbia to Saskatchewan. Pincushion is a very small cactus that needs dry soils; it can be prone to rotting if in a poorly drained location. It blooms in early July.