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Sea Urchin Cactus, Sand Dollar Cactus
Scientific Name: Astrophytum asterias (Zucc.) Lem.
Synonym: Echinocactus asterias
Family: Cactaceae
Listed in CITES Appendix 1
Sea Urchin Cactus, Sand Dollar Cactus (Astrophytum  asterias) Recommended Temperature Zone:
USDA: 9-11

Frost Tolerance: Hardy to 20 F (-6C)

Minimum Avg. Temperature: 45F (7C)

Sun Exposure: Full sun to keep it blooming.

Origin: Northeastern Mexico (Nuevo Len, Tamaulipas), southern Texas

Growth Habits: Solitary globular cactus, up to 6 inches in diameter (15 cm); 6 to 8 ribs; no spines

Watering Needs: Little water, subject to root rot, keep very dry in winter

Propagation: Seeds that germinate rapidly. Some cultivars are grafted. They take up to 6 years to bloom.


The Astrophytum asterias is a popular spineless cactus. In the wild it is almost extinct, mostly due to habitat destruction. In the wild it decreases in size when lacking water and might be covered with dust during the dry season. The rain makes it swell and washes it, making it ready to enjoy the sunlight.
The white flecking is very variable from clone to clone. 'Super Kabuto' (second picture) is a Japanese cultivar with extremely abundant flecking.

Astrophytum asterias 'Super Kabuto' at Miles' to Go nursery.  This is a form bred from a wild specimen.

Sea Urchin Cactus, Sand Dollar Cactus (Astrophytum  asterias)

Cultural Practices:
Prefer alkaline, porous soil. Water slightly more in summer during its growing season. You can use half strength liquid fertilizer after the flower buds have formed.

Blooming Habits:
The Sea urchin blooms in summer at irregular intervals. The 2 inch wide flowers (5 cm) are yellow with a red center, and sweet scented. They are followed by spineless greyish-red fruits. Plants generally start blooming when they exceed one inch (2.5 cm) in diameter.

Fruiting Habits:

Check for Field Collection numbers at Ralph Martin's Site


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Desert-Tropicals is dedicated to provide gardening advice, gardening ideas, and information about flower of all kind for landscape and collections. We try to check carefully the identification of the plants on the illustrations as well as the other information from the page, but occasionally errors do occur. if you notice anything that needs to be changed please contact us. Thanks.

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