Arizona Fishhook Cactus, Fishhook Pincushion, Graham's Fishhook, Lizard Catcher, Sunset Cactus

Mammillaria grahamii

Family: Cactaceae (kak-TAY-see-ee) (Info)
Genus: Mammillaria (mam-mil-AR-ee-uh) (Info)
Species: grahamii (GRAM-ee-eye) (Info)
Synonym:Chilita grahamii
Synonym:Mammillaria microcarpa subsp. grahamii
Synonym:Mammillaria microcarpa
Synonym:Chilita microcarpa
Synonym:Ebnerella microcarpa


Cactus and Succulents

Foliage Color:

Unknown - Tell us

Bloom Characteristics:

Unknown - Tell us

Water Requirements:

Drought-tolerant; suitable for xeriscaping

Average Water Needs; Water regularly; do not overwater

Where to Grow:

Suitable for growing in containers


under 6 in. (15 cm)


6-9 in. (15-22 cm)

9-12 in. (22-30 cm)

12-15 in. (30-38 cm)


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)

Sun Exposure:

Full Sun

Sun to Partial Shade

Light Shade


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

Bloom Color:


Magenta (Pink-Purple)

White/Near White

Bloom Time:

Mid Spring

Late Spring/Early Summer

Late Summer/Early Fall



Other details:

This plant may be considered a protected species; check before digging or gathering seeds

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:

Ajo, Arizona

Anthem, Arizona

Catalina, Arizona

Chandler, Arizona

Glendale, Arizona

Kearny, Arizona

Phoenix, Arizona

Salome, Arizona

Tucson, Arizona (2 reports)

Canoga Park, California

Castro Valley, California

Hesperia, California

Salinas, California

show all

Gardeners' Notes:


On Jun 5, 2013, weatherguesser from Salinas, CA (Zone 9b) wrote:

I remember this cactus growing wild in the desert around Scottsdale, AZ when I was growing up there. I've had one, bought locally in Salinas, CA, growing in a shallow terra cotta pot with a bunch of other cacti and succulents - the fishhook cactus has developed into a nice little clump of about 10 heads. I've separated a couple to plant in a new small cactus garden in my front yard -- we'll see how they do there.


On Oct 13, 2009, Pushmar from Tucson, AZ wrote:

Easy to grow here in Tucson - it's native. Have found broken "Globules", let them scab over and planted them - grow fine, with pretty pink/purple flowers.


On Feb 26, 2005, IslandJim from Keizer, OR (Zone 8b) wrote:

Reliable bloomer for winter doldruns in northern latitudes. It's an easy care cactus that has an attractive form even when not blooming.


On Oct 3, 2004, Xenomorf from Phoenix, AZ (Zone 9b) wrote:

I've seen this cactus growing in the wild in the Phoenix surrounding desert; Oro Valley, AZ; Oracle Junction, AZ; Kearny, AZ & on the 'El Camino Del Diablo Trail' (Devils' Highway) that runs between Ajo and Wellton in Arizona.

More synonyms of this plant are: Mammillaria grahamii var. grahamii, Neomammillaria milleri, Chilita milleri, Mammillaria milleri, Mammillaria microcarpa var. milleri, Mammillaria marnierana, Mammillaria pseudoalamoensis, Neomammillaria microcarpa, Cactus grahamii, Cochemiea grahamii, Chilita grahamii, Mammillaria milleri var. grahamii, Mammillaria microcarpa var. grahamii

Other Common names include: Pitahayita, Choyita, Black-spined Pincushion, Cabeza de Viejo, Fishhook Pincushion, Miller's Pincushion, Olive's Pincushion, Sunset... read more