Ariocarpus fissuratus is one of many varieties of cacti and succulents known as living rocks, a term coined for their ability to blend into their surroundings. Fissuratus is the most popular species of ariocarpus among rare cacti collectors. The rough, grey, triangular tubercles that disguise the cactus in its natural environment along with wooly tufts and 1.5” purple flowers are also highly ornamental. The Hintonii variety is especially prized for its particularly rough, intricate tuberlces, which are longer and narrower than in the standard variety. Hintonii also has a dwarf stem and smaller seeds. As a result of its ornamental value, this cactus has been heavily over-harvested in its native areas of Texas, New Mexico and northern Mexico. To preserve it from complete extinction, wild harvests have been restricted. However, its extreme desirability has preserved its survival in cultivation. One factor that’s made ariocarpus fissuratus so susceptible to over-harvesting is its slow growth. It can take a cactus twenty years to 8”, although much of the cactus grows underground as a large taproot. Fortunately, cultivators have found that grafting ariocarpus to faster-growing stocks such as pereskiopsis, san pedro or blue myrtle can drastically speed up growth.
Before it was a coveted ornamental, ariocarpus fissuratus was used as a medicinal and sacramental cactus, particularly by the Tarahumara Indians. As a medicinal, it was reported to be commonly used for fevers and rheumatism. There are also reports that it was chewed as a stimulant. Its religious significance is related to peyote and it is often cacti called names like “false peyote,” “peyotillo” or “peyote cimmaron.”