Decorative plants

Cactus Without Spines - Spineless Cactus Types

Ulla Rothschuh Osorio
By Ulla Rothschuh Osorio, Biologist. June 12, 2023
Cactus Without Spines - Spineless Cactus Types

Cacti are plants which are in high demand. This is in a large part due to the fact they need relatively little care. It is also because they are beautiful and add a touch of the exotic to homes of all kinds. Unfortunately, many people avoid keeping a cactus in their home or garden because they don't like the spines. The spines are adaptations which many cacti have evolved to protect against being eaten by animals. Since cacti are often found in the desert, many animals would try to eat them to get some moisture, something very scarce in these environments. All cacti are from the plant family Cactaceae, but not all have spines.

If you are looking for some non-prickly cacti, thedailyECO shares 10 types of cactus without spines which can provide all the beauty with none of the pain.

You may also be interested in: The Most Expensive Flowers in the World


  1. Christmas cactus (Schlumbergera spp.)
  2. Star rock cactus (Ariocarpus retusus)
  3. Peyote (Lophophora williamsii)
  4. Spineless prickly pear cactus (Opuntia cacanapa 'Ellisiana')
  5. Sand dollar cactus (Astrophytum asterias)
  6. Pitahaya (Selenicereus undatus)
  7. Blossfeldia liliputana
  8. Mistletoe cactus (Rhipsalis baccifera)
  9. Hatiora spp.
  10. Orchid cactus (Epiphyllum spp.)
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Christmas cactus (Schlumbergera spp.)

Also known as the holiday cactus or crab cactus, this cactus type can be epiphytic or epilithic, meaning they can grow on trees or rocks, respectively. They have cladodes which are modified stems that function as leaves of the cactus. They are concatenated, meaning they form long stems fragmented into flattened sections with the flowers growing out of the ends. They are smooth and spineless cacti. The flowers are very beautiful and can be of varying colors.

If you want to see the beauty of these flowers for yourself, you can use the affiliate link below to purchase one in a pot:

Cactus Without Spines - Spineless Cactus Types - Christmas cactus (Schlumbergera spp.)

Star rock cactus (Ariocarpus retusus)

The genus Ariocarpus is one of the most slow-growing cacti. The star rocks cactus is the fastest growing of them, but it can still take 10 years to reach a flowering state. They are a type of spineless cactus, but the leaves themselves are known for being quite sharp at the tips. Cactus needles come from parts of the plant known as areoles which vary in location. These have areoles at the tips, but the spines are so small as to be non-existent.

Cactus Without Spines - Spineless Cactus Types - Star rock cactus (Ariocarpus retusus)

Peyote (Lophophora williamsii)

This type of spinless cactus has cultural value for the Huichol indigenous people of northern Mexico. This is largely due to the psychoactive substances it contains, but it also has great aesthetic value. It is spherical in shape with very marked divisions and it barely emerges from the ground. It is so small it can often go unnoticed.

The peyote cactus measures from 2 to a maximum of 10 centimeters in diameter. The color is light greyish green and areoles without thorns can be distinguished. Its flowers range from light pink to white. It is also slow growing, so extractions have made it vulnerable to disappearing. For this reason, Mexican legislation has prohibited extraction by non-locals.

Cactus Without Spines - Spineless Cactus Types - Peyote (Lophophora williamsii)

Spineless prickly pear cactus (Opuntia cacanapa 'Ellisiana')

Most Opuntia prickly pears have spines, but this variety lacks them. This spineless cactus can be used for safe arid gardens, but it is also used for livestock fodder. It is made up of several plant stems superimposed one on top of the other, as in the types of cactus with spines. The areoles of this cactus only have glochids, which are like very thin and small spines. These come off easily, so you will have to avoid touching them.

Cactus Without Spines - Spineless Cactus Types - Spineless prickly pear cactus (Opuntia cacanapa 'Ellisiana')

Sand dollar cactus (Astrophytum asterias)

It is a globose cactus with 8 marked segments and spineless areoles. Instead of needles, they have only fuzz-like trichomes. It is similar to peyote, but the flower in this case ranges from white to yellow. The stem is very smooth and glossy dark green in color. There are endless varieties created from this species, with outstanding peculiar characteristics.

Cactus Without Spines - Spineless Cactus Types - Sand dollar cactus (Astrophytum asterias)

Pitahaya (Selenicereus undatus)

Pitahayas are a type of cactus without spines which is cultivated for its fruit. This fruit is also known as pitahaya, but many people in English-speaking nations know it as dragon fruit. These fruits have a fiery pink skin with green-tipped extensions. Inside is a juicy white pulp with black seeds.

Some pitahaya cacti such as the species Selenicereus undatus grows epiphytically, developing continuous and long 3-sided cladodes in the shape of a triangle. They can grow up to 16.5'/5 m in height. They technically have spines, but they are very small and not dangerous. They are a common choice to have in gardens as they are large and make one of the most beautiful types of spineless cactus in the world.

Learn more about this beautiful fruit-bearing cactus with our article on types of edible succulents and cacti.

Cactus Without Spines - Spineless Cactus Types - Pitahaya (Selenicereus undatus)

Blossfeldia liliputana

At only 1.2 centimeters in diameter, Blossfeldia liliputana is the smallest type of cactus in the world. This is reflected in tis scientific name which references the tiny people from Gulliver's travels. They are grouped in colonies and all are cactus without spines, although their areoles have trichomes that give them a hair appearance. This cactus plant is native to South America where it typically grows between the crevices of rocks.

Plants that grow in rock and dry areas are known as xerophytes. Discover more with our guide to the different types of xerophytic plants.

Cactus Without Spines - Spineless Cactus Types - Blossfeldia liliputana

Mistletoe cactus (Rhipsalis baccifera)

This plant is a pendulous epiphyte with long, light green and tubular cladodes without spines. In certain cases they may have a few trichomes, but they are almost always smooth. It grows as a branched pendant, up to 10 meters long.

The mistletoe cactus produces transparent white globular-shaped fruits which are 1 cm in length. These emerge from equally white flowers. It is native to Central America. Curiously, it is the only cactus that occurs naturally outside of the Americas, with populations in Africa. It has been suggested that this happened due to the dispersal of seeds by migrating birds, although there is no complete certainty in the research.

Cactus Without Spines - Spineless Cactus Types - Mistletoe cactus (Rhipsalis baccifera)

Hatiora spp.

This cactus without spines is similar to the mistletoe cactus, but the tubular cladodes are divided into fragments. They have a more broadened terminal end, from which another fragment is inserted. In these divisions are the areoles, which may or may not have trichomes. As they get older, the base becomes woody. They are pendulous epiphytes and their flowers are yellow, red or pink. They are originally from Brazil.

All cacti are types of succulent, but you can learn more with our article on the difference between succulents and cacti.

Cactus Without Spines - Spineless Cactus Types - Hatiora spp.

Orchid cactus (Epiphyllum spp.)

Also known as the climbing cactus or leaf cactus, this cactus without spines develops large flowers from a long stem. The photosynthetic cladodes are very flattened, bright green in color and have lobed margins. It is for this reason they are seen to be similar to orchids. They are epiphytes and come in many colors ranging from white to pink. They only bloom once. This occurs for a very short time during the night and it gives off a very pleasant aroma.

Learn more with our article on the rarest orchids in the world.

Cactus Without Spines - Spineless Cactus Types - Orchid cactus (Epiphyllum spp.)

If you want to read similar articles to Cactus Without Spines - Spineless Cactus Types, we recommend you visit our Decorative plants category.

  • Font, J. (2017) Cacti and other succulent plants. Spain: Larousse.

  • Beatty, R., Beer, A., & Deeming, C. (2010). The book of nature. Great Britain: Dorling Kindersley.
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Cactus Without Spines - Spineless Cactus Types