Uebelmannia pectinifera is a solitary cactus 10-50(-100) cm tall. It is a multiform species and very variable in habitat, comprising a complex of numerous local forms, where each form is linked to others by populations of plants with intermediate characteristics. Three subspecies are recognized, the nominate form (subsp. pectinifera), subsp. flavispina (Buining & Brederoo) P.J.Braun & Esteves and subsp. horrida (P.J. Braun) P.J. Braun & Esteves. The circumscription into subspecies possibly represents convenient over-simplification of the situation in nature.
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