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Fish Hook Cactus
Mammillaria dioica
About Fish Hook Cactus (Mammillaria dioica) Nurseries Show All Photos Mammillaria dioica, also called Strawberry Cactus, California Fishhook cactus, Strawberry Pincusion or Fishhook Cactus, is a species of the genus Mammillaria found in California and northwestern Mexico, including Baja California and the state of Sonora. It is one of the smallest cacti in California and may appear as a single stem or as a clump of numerous stems. Very large specimens can be up to 6" high but usually less. In desert areas it is most often found growing in very rocky areas, sometimes growing out of crevices in granite boulders in the desert-edge canyons. In San Diego County it is also found on the immediate coast growing on sandstone bluffs as part of Maritime Succulent Scrub. The plant possesses short, firm tubercles ending in the spines. Most of these spines are whitish and straight, but each tubercle has a longer central spine which is slightly curved and dark, leading to the Fishhook name. The flowers are small but showy. A closely related species is Mammillaria tetrancistra which is very similar in general appearance but has pink flowers.
Plant Description
Plant Type
Shrub, Succulent

Max. Height
6 in (15.2 cm)

Max. Width
4 in (10cm)

Upright Columnar


Growth Rate


Flower Color
White, Yellow

Flowering Season
Spring, Winter

Native Status

Natural Setting
Site Type
Slopes and canyons of the southern desert and desert transition. Also coastal bluffs.


Elevation ?
17' - 3924'

Annual Precip. ?
3.5" - 13.9"

Summer Precip. ?
0.19" - 1.96"

Coldest Month ?
44.9° F - 61.3° F

Hottest Month ?
68.9° F - 88.0° F

Humidity ?
1.62 vpd - 41.20 vpd

Soil Description
Rocky, sandy, sandstone, or decomposed granite


Sunset Zones ?
17, 19, 20, 21, 22, 23, 24

Wildlife Attracted
This species (along with many others) has extrafloral nectaries which attract numerous insects (especially native ants) even when the plant is not in flower. It is hypothesized that ants provide some protection against herbivory.

Landscaping Information
Water Requirement ?
Extremely Low, Very Low
Extremely Low
Very Low
Moderate - High

Seldom Used

Max. Summer Water ?
No Summer Water
No Summer Water
Keep moist


Common uses
Deer Resistant

Nursery Availability
Sometimes Available

Other Names
Common Names
Fish-hook Cactus, Strawberry Cactus

Sources include: Wikipedia. All text shown in the "About" section of these pages is available under the Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike License. Plant observation data provided by the participants of the California Consortia of Herbaria, Sunset information provided by Jepson Flora Project. Propogation from seed information provided by the Santa Barbara Botanical Garden from "Seed Propagation of Native California Plants" by Dara E. Emery. Sources of plant photos include CalPhotos, Wikimedia Commons, and independent plant photographers who have agreed to share their images with Calscape. Other general sources of information include Calflora, CNPS Manual of Vegetation Online, Jepson Flora Project, Las Pilitas, Theodore Payne, Tree of Life, The Xerces Society, and information provided by CNPS volunteer editors, with special thanks to Don Rideout. Climate data used in creation of plant range maps is from PRISM Climate Group, Oregon State University, using 30 year (1981-2010) annual "normals" at an 800 meter spatial resolution.

Links:   Jepson eFlora Taxon Page  CalPhotos  Wikipedia  Calflora

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