Common Name: moon cactus, lollipop cactus, ruby ball cactus
Botanical Synonyms: Gymnocalycium mihanovichii var. friedrichii, Gymnocalycium friedrichii
Origin: Gymnocalycium stenopleurum inhabits xerophilous Chacoan forests within the Cerro León, Boquerón department of Paraguay – and possibly Bolivia – at elevations up to 500 meters. The mutated form is only found in cultivation, and cannot survive in the species’ natural habitat.
Description: G. stenopleurum is a small cactus that develops a globular, solitary stem, grey-green in color, with brownish-red bands. At least 8 deep ribs are present, covered in twisted, needle or awn-shaped spines. Over time, offsets will develop on the head of mature cacti.
G. stenopleurum differs from G. mihanovichii by the tall, slender ribs; thickening around the areoles; and wide pink flowers, which bloom from mid spring to late summer.
The mutated form is completely without chlorophyll, and therefore will possess red, pink, yellow, orange, or white stems. As a result, mutated G. stenopleurum are grafted onto another cactus – usually Hylocereus sp., which possesses a simple green trunk. Mutated moon cacti often do not grow higher than 4 inches tall.
Cultivation and Care: