It grows in a desert, or more strictly a poor, semi-desert where the rare bushes are separated, several meters apart.
Sparse temporary grasses can be found for some weeks after the rains, which fall between December and March, but it is possible also to have some rainfall from October to April.
The Yavia is a cactus adapted to extremes, cold, drought and a low nutrient, and grows in the crevices of the rocky soil, on the horizontal or on gentle slopes normally just at the level of the soil surface or even lower, immersed in the crevices.
Some are even covered by small pebbles. Their extreme rough conditions force them to live almost underground.
When the rains come, they swell, and peek up to reach for the sun. When drought starts, they simply dry down under the surface, and get covered with a protecting layer of dust. Their life is only maintained in the swollen root, the caudex.