E. melanostele is a slow growing columnar cactus which grows up to 7 feet (2.1 m) tall, but raised in a pot it will reach up to 10 inches (25 cm) in 10 years. Even at a very young age, the cactus displays an abundance of long, woolly spines that cover and hide the body of the plant including sharp, white, yellow or red spines up to 1.5 inches (3.8 cm) long.
Flowers are rarely born on a cephalium, unlike its close cousin E. lanata. When it blooms, it has orchid-like white flowers.
Originating from the hilly regions, this species requires low maintenance and enough sunlight to grow. This needs a little more water than most cacti for a healthy growth.
If kept outside it requires full sunlight and a bright spot if kept inside. During the growing season fertilising and watering regularly is the key to best results.
It is an excellent plant for garden rockery settings, desert type landscapes, patios and botanical gardens