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So I just bought this cactus two weeks ago. First cactus or plant I’ve ever had. When I got it the plant was dry af. So I watered it a little bit and every 2 days or so I put it on the window sill slowly introducing it to sun since I have no idea how long it’s been sitting inside the Home Depot section. Now I noticed it’s got there weird brown stem looking things that look like it’s growing out? I have no idea what it is. These additional brown stems (they aren’t like the stems growing thorns) form a ring around the cactus.

Update: here are some photos of a few I managed to remove.

Any idea what it is?enter image description here

  • Are you able to pull them out?
    – Mihkel
    Oct 13, 2018 at 15:39
  • Are they just bits of compost that have got stuck to the plant like a "tide mark", after somebody has over-watered it, made a mess while repotting it, or something like that? If they are all the way round at one level, that isn't what most pests or diseases would look like.
    – alephzero
    Oct 13, 2018 at 18:43
  • You don't need to "slowly introduce it to the sun," though that won't do it any harm. If it is behind glass in your house, it isn't getting the full radiation spectrum of natural sunlight anyway, and whether you are in the northern or southern hemisphere, it's a long way from midsummer right now.
    – alephzero
    Oct 13, 2018 at 18:46
  • @mihkel I tried. I got two out but it’s not easy with the thorns blocking it’s path. I have to slowly separate the thorns and with tweezers pull it out but it does come out very easy.
    – SpiderBan
    Oct 14, 2018 at 13:36
  • @alephzero it does look like a lot like dirt. The pointy end you see in the photo is what is attached to the plant. And the huge bluntish end is what you see between the thorns. I’m hoping it’s just dirt but this is my first plant so to me, it’s like who knows what that is. Lol. As for slowly introducing it to the sun, that’s for your advice! I was worried because I like in Southern California and it’s still pretty hot so I was worried of sunburn. But any tips are greatly appreciated :D
    – SpiderBan
    Oct 14, 2018 at 13:40

1 Answer 1


These are spent flowers/fruit. You don't need to pull them out, though it does give a neater appearance.

Mammillaria flowers appear at the apex of the tubercle (see photo). After the flowers appear (they may get pollinated or not) they dry up. If pollinated, the fruit will develop inside a small pocket in the plant and once ripe, will pop out. What you are seeing is when a flower(s) don't get pollinated. The stub of the flower/fruit is left.

Be careful when removing them. Try not to puncture the plant. I use small tweezers and try to grab them as close to the plant body as possible.

Good luck!


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