The species is named after John Potts, who ran the mint in Chihuahua, Mexico, where he collected the original material of the species between 1842 and 1850. It is a small shrubby cactus, that assumes a ground cover form, as it grows. Its flat and green blades are sprinkled with yellow areoles. The growth of its spines is particular, because the lower part of its stem is hairless, while the upper part has a few long spines. It blooms in spring with yellow to red flowers.