My friend brought me a little cactus from a plant sale. Unfortunately I don't have a clue about cacti and was wondering if someone could tell me what the little orange buds are? Are they real? I can't see any glue around it but they seem too perfectly placed to be real.

Thanks for your time & enjoy the pictures of my cactus:

Picture one

enter image description here

up vote 3 down vote accepted

Those are what is known in the trade as "wheat flowers". They're made from wheat leaves/blades, dyed and glued on.

There are no cactus flowers that I'm aware of that look like that. There are no petals, no sepals, no stigma, nothing that remotely looks like a flower other than position and color.

It's also definitely not a Mammillaria. The pictured plant has tubercles in vertical ribs. Mammillaria have separated tubercles that grow in a swirl pattern.

I suspect that this is south American. If/whg it flowers it will probably flower from around the middle.

Leave them alone for now. As the plant grows it may shed them on it's own. They won't hurt the plant, but it will be a constant reminder that there are monsters out there who glue unnecessary things to cactus.

  • Agree with wheat flowers comment. As the plant grows/glue ages, they fall off in my experience. Best not to go poking and prodding. – George of all trades Nov 8 at 13:31
  • Actually it looks like they have a spike that has been pushed in. Might be able to gently tease them out, but that will leave a hole. – George of all trades Nov 8 at 13:33
  • If they are on spikes or pins, pull them out, gently. Any holes will close up or cork over.. You won't notice it after a while. Some cactus are very good at recovering from or hiding damage. Good looking plant, I suspect it might be a Notocactus, now sunk into Parodia.. – Tim Nevins Nov 8 at 15:47
  • I pulled them out since they looked like pins rather than glue and they all came out without much force. I agree that stores are horrible to damage cacti with fake "accessories" but hopefully it's reversible damage. Thank you so much for all the info and advice! – Ash Nov 9 at 0:41

It looks like a mammillaria species, and they often produce a neat ring of flower buds around the growing point. See https://www.alamy.com/stock-photo/cactus-mammillaria-sempervivi-flowers-close.html for example. But the ones in your picture don't look very "real" to me.

If you don't see any change in them in a couple of weeks, they are most likely false. I don't know why people stick false flowers and buds onto cacti, but they do!

If you touch one of them (carefully, to avoid the cactus spines) it should be fairly obvious if it's part of the plant, or a bit of plastic. I said touch one of them, because if they are real you want the rest of them to develop and flower without being damaged by you prodding them!

Be careful if you try to remove them. They may be held on by pins stuck into the cactus, which are easy to pull out but will leave scars, and will increase the risk of diseases getting into the plant until the plant heals itself. But if they are glued on, removing them can seriously damage the plant, and you might be better off just leaving them where they are.

One way to try to remove glued-on "flowers" is to heat a kitchen knife in boiling water, and hope the heated knife will soften the glue as you try to cut through it. But try that at your own risk, of course.

  • I also agree, they look fake, but if they are, there is definitely no glue. Touched one of them, doesn't feel plastic... but I'm still not sure if they are real. I'm just going to wait it out and see if they grow? Thanks for the advice, really appreciate it ! – Ash Nov 8 at 10:28
  • Sometimes they stick them in fastened to the end of a piece of toothpick. Grab them with a needle nose, and pull straight out. – Wayfaring Stranger Nov 9 at 16:00

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