I bought this cactus a while ago and never knew the name of the species. Can someone help me with the name of the plant?

A small clone of it is growing on the top of the plant. Should I cut it and repot it, or can I leave it in there?

  • 1
    By clone, do you mean that the bottom used to look like that upper part? Can you be a little more specific as to how long you've had it? Has it grown much? Did it ever flower? A few more details might help identify it. Thanks! – Sue Saddest Farewell TGO GL Mar 31 '15 at 23:54
  • I was wondering mostly the same thing. Is the clone the bit that looks like the cactus or is there another little button growing on top of that. If the green monster below is the cactus, I have no cluez – Escoce Apr 1 '15 at 0:07
  • The top part is clearly nothing like the bottom part, and I'm curious about the long, straggly deadlooking growths spraying out from the bottom - they don't look like spines, so has the bottom part flowered and these bits are remnants of some sort? – Bamboo Apr 1 '15 at 14:08
  • I have already found out the name check my answer – BigBen3216 Apr 1 '15 at 20:28
  • @Sue it did not used to look exactly like that but similar. I bought the plant like 4 months ago and it never grew a lot – BigBen3216 Apr 1 '15 at 20:31

I agree that this intriguing plant appears to be a Tephrocactus Articulatus, var. Papyracanthus, commonly known as the Paper Spine Cactus.

According to Cacti-guide:

It's a small genus in the subfamily Opuntioideae. It's name was derived from the Greek word for ashes, "tephra," referring to the color of the spines. Some species in this genus are very popular in cultivation, and are grown for their alien-looking stems and dramatic spines.

It's native to Argentina, but is a common houseplant in many countries. It also thrives outside where the average minimum temperature is approximately 50 degrees F, although some are hardy enough to withstand an occasional frost. The USDA recommended zones are 8b-10. Whether inside or out, it needs a lot of sun, as lack of light causes those spindles to become thin and weak. It needs good drainage, and, once established, requires very little water. A small amount once a week is good, but wait a bit longer if the roots are still wet. Source-Desert Tropicals.

That clone you're seeing is an immature segment called a "cone." The cactus grows by producing clumps or stacks of those. The plant can grow as tall as a foot high, though the cones are delicate and break off easily, so you won't often see one that tall. The easiest way to propagate a new Tephro is by gently breaking off a cone and sticking it into the ground, so you can leave the one you have and wait for some more, or you can use it to start a new plant any time.

As for flowers, a mature plant will produce flowers, which

are white in most species or pinkish, sometimes yellow, and in one case red. Flowers are less common in cultivation as the segments often detach with the slightest touch, and plants that are only a couple segments high tend not to flower. As such, a flowering Tephrocactus is a special delight to the hobbyist! source

I hope this helps you!

  • Just wanted to thank you for coming over to motor vehicle and voting to help us be successful. Really appreciate the reciprocity! Thank you, thank you. :-) – Citizen Mar 25 '16 at 1:12
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I asked somewhere else and I found out that this plant is called Paper spine cactus, the top part is going to be one of many extensions of the plant and it will end up looking like this:


  • 1
    Very interesting, never seen anything like it, thanks for letting us know. Clearly, you don't need to separate your plant... – Bamboo Apr 1 '15 at 20:54

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