This species is native to northern Mexico where it grows in the mountains at elevations of 2,500-3,000 m (8,000-10,000 ft), tolerating both frost and snow. It resembles a snowball with its thick, ‘woolly’ coat. Theis spherical at first, later oval in outline, about 4-7 cm across. The ‘woolly’ coat is composed of numerous white (sometimes yellowish) radial spines, 40-50 growing from a single areole. The central spines are hooked and brownish-yellow at the tip. The have a very long tube – up to 6 cm are slightly oblique and are coloured orange-red to carmine-red. The ripe fruits are red and globose.
This is an attractive, hardybut it does not produce very often. To induce flowering, keep it in a cold but very light place in winter. The substrate must be free-draining and the plant should be watered with great care during the growing period.