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Astrophytum asterias – Sand Dollar Cactus

Peyotillo - Asterias

Astrophytum asterias is a species of cactus in the genus Astrophytum.

Astrophytum asterias, also receives the popular names of False Peyote Peyotillo.  Sand Dollar Cactus, Sea Urchin Cactus, Star Cactus, Star Peyote  .

Asterias, derived from the Greek, “aster”, star. The suffix “ias”, meaning, comparable, similar.


The origin and habitat of Peyotillo is the wide strip between northern Mexico and southern North America.

That is, the border area between Mexico and the United States, the area of ??the Sierra Madre Oriental, in the states of Tamaulipas, Nuevo León and the Rio Grande Valley, State of Texas, in the United States.

The Astrophytum asterias, is in danger of extinction due to the loss of its own habitats, the plundering of the population and the presence of abundant rabbits, on this beautiful species.

Description of the Sea Urchin Cactus or Astrophytum asterias.

It grows in areas of relatively low altitude, between 50 and 200 meters above sea level.

Its most recognizable habitat is hills, dry river beds, alluvial soils with gravel and salt or calcareous clays, in vegetation zones of shrubs and grasslands, in warm or semi-desert climates.

The Astrophytum asterias, is usually found in areas of shadow or gloom, almost completely buried and often covered by sand.

It blends very well with the environment, being very cryptic.

Its colors, make it difficult to locate if you are not looking intensely or is in bloom, which gives it away.

The Sea Urchin Cactus or Astrophytum asterias, is a species of great symmetry, in its forms.

It has a spherical stem of low height, about 2 to 6 cm in height, flat in its high area and with about 10 cm to 20 cm or more in diameter.


Its coloration is dark grayish green, confusing with the environment or habitat that surrounds it.

The sand dollar cactus , usually has 5 to 8 flat ribs. In areas of controlled cultivation, they can have up to 12 or 13 ribs.

Each rib, divided into deep grooves, has in the center the areolas, of grayish or whitish color and which are large, spherical and separated about 0.5 cm between each one and arranged in the shape of a star’s radius.

The asterias has no thorns.

The flowers of the Peyotillo Cactus.

Peyotillo flowers are about 3 to 5 cm in length, about 5 to 7 cm in diameter, which open completely and with a center coloration, orange or reddish.

When it blossoms, a yellow flower of numerous petals is born, with a center of a more intense tonality, with a slightly orange tone.


The flowering of the Cactus Peyotillo or Astrophytum asteria, occurs in summer or winter, coming to take in bloom 5 or 6 years, like other species of astrophytum.

It gives a fairly abundant and generous flowering. The flowers have a diameter of 6 cm and like the rest of the genus, they live about a week.


How to grow the Astrophytum asterias.

It can be grown without major problem in a pot, although its origin is pebbles or gravel, in arid areas.

The astrophytum asteria, supports the exposure to the full sun well, although it prefers a slight shade.

In terms of temperatures, it supports well up to 5 ° C in winter and 30/35 ° C. in summer. Can not stand the frost.

The astrophytum asteria, is rather slow growth. They do not tolerate excess irrigation water.

Irrigation, fertilization, substrate, multiplication of astrophytum asteria.

The irrigation must be of low frequency. Only water when the substrate is well dry, avoiding puddles and the consequent rotting of the root system.

They are cactus, which resist drought well. After the summer, reduce the risks and in winter, cancel them until the arrival of spring.

It does not need additional nuttients but that of a good base substrate. In any case use a fertilizer rich inpotassium and once during the summer.

The base substrate must be sandy, permeable, with good drainage and without the addition of fertilizer and a basic pH.

Germinates well from seeds and grows quickly without problems soon after sowing (one week) .


To obtain seeds, pollen must be put on one flower, in the stigma of the other and, as in the other species of the genus Astrophytum, they do not self-pollinate.

What pests and diseases the Peyotillo Cactus suffers.

The Astrophytum asterias, suffers from the attack of woodlice, aphids, snails and slugs, in the worst case.

If our Astrophytum asteria was attacked, we will use specific insecticides to that effect. Avoid puddling and thus avoid root rot.

Curiosities of the Peyotillo Cactus.

The astrophytum asteria Cactus is very desired in remote areas such as Japan, where it is highly valued.


In Japan it is called “Kabuto”, in honor of the helmet of the traditional Japanese armor.

It is a plant with many variations and being widely cultivated, there are many varieties.

Peyotillo Cactus Astrophytum asterias.

The most famous is the “Superkabuto”, which is a very beautiful Astrophytum asteria Cactus, which is present in many collections.


Astrophytum myriostigma

Astrophytum myriostigma – Bishop’s Cap

Astrophytum capricorne with yellow flower

Astrophytum Capricorne – Goat’s Horns Cactus