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Image of Astrophytum ornatum

James H. Schutte



Botanical Name


Plant Common Name

Monk's Hood, Star Cactus

Special Notice

This entry has yet to be reviewed and approved by L2G editors.

General Description

Monk’s hood is a beautiful windowsill cactus with unique coloring and strong geometric form. This cactus does not demand high intensity light and will thrive in any south facing exposure as a house plant. It is native to the deserts of central Mexico in gravelly dry washes or nooks and crannies in cliff faces. Each plant is technically a stem divided into an average of 8 segments that may twist somewhat as plants age. Widely spaced tubercles line the segment ridges, each one producing several short, but very sharp spines.

What makes monk’s hood so attractive is the fine white, chalky scales distributed unevenly over its emerald green surface. As plants age the scales separate into stripes pointing toward each tubercle. Handle this cactus with care since the scales can be rubbed off with handling and will not grow back.

Monk’s hood is a spring blooming species. Buds form at the tubercles closest to the center, opening into numerous vivid yellow flowers the size of a quarter. They are long lasting, drop off cleanly and rarely form seed capsules. Like other star cactus, monk’s hood does not ask for much water and thrives even with a very small, Spartan root zone. They demand fast drainage overall and are downright hard to kill except with excessive moisture and overly rich soil. Very slow growth and small size is what makes them ideal for bonsai pots and other creative containers on porch, window sill or balcony. This is an ideal choice for beginners due to exceptional geometry and ease of cultivation indoors.


  • AHS Heat Zone

    12 - 10

  • USDA Hardiness Zone

    12 - 15

  • Sunset Zone

    21, 22, 23, 24

  • Plant Type

    Cactus or Succulent

  • Bloom Time


Growing Conditions

  • Growth Rate

    Very Slow

  • Water Requirements

    Xeric/Desert, Drought Tolerant

  • Habit


Ornamental Features

  • Flower Color


  • Fruit Color


  • Flower Petal Number


  • Showy Fruit


  • Edible Fruit


Special Characteristics

  • Attracts