Last updated

Echinocereus triglochidiatus 8.jpg
Echinocereus triglochidiatus
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Plantae
(unranked): Angiosperms
(unranked): Eudicots
(unranked): Core eudicots
Order: Caryophyllales
Family: Cactaceae
Subfamily: Cactoideae
Tribe: Pachycereeae
Subtribe: Echinocereinae

See text


Morangaya G.D.Rowley
Wilcoxia Britton & Rose [1]

Echinocereus is a genus of ribbed, usually small to medium-sized cylindrical cacti, comprising about 70 species native to the southern United States and Mexico in very sunny rocky places. Usually the flowers are large and the fruit edible.

A genus is a taxonomic rank used in the biological classification of living and fossil organisms, as well as viruses, in biology. In the hierarchy of biological classification, genus comes above species and below family. In binomial nomenclature, the genus name forms the first part of the binomial species name for each species within the genus.

Cactus family of mostly succulent plants, adapted to dry environments

A cactus is a member of the plant family Cactaceae, a family comprising about 127 genera with some 1750 known species of the order Caryophyllales. The word "cactus" derives, through Latin, from the Ancient Greek κάκτος, kaktos, a name originally used by Theophrastus for a spiny plant whose identity is not certain. Cacti occur in a wide range of shapes and sizes. Most cacti live in habitats subject to at least some drought. Many live in extremely dry environments, even being found in the Atacama Desert, one of the driest places on earth. Cacti show many adaptations to conserve water. Almost all cacti are succulents, meaning they have thickened, fleshy parts adapted to store water. Unlike many other succulents, the stem is the only part of most cacti where this vital process takes place. Most species of cacti have lost true leaves, retaining only spines, which are highly modified leaves. As well as defending against herbivores, spines help prevent water loss by reducing air flow close to the cactus and providing some shade. In the absence of leaves, enlarged stems carry out photosynthesis. Cacti are native to the Americas, ranging from Patagonia in the south to parts of western Canada in the north—except for Rhipsalis baccifera, which also grows in Africa and Sri Lanka.

In biology, a species ( ) is the basic unit of classification and a taxonomic rank of an organism, as well as a unit of biodiversity. A species is often defined as the largest group of organisms in which any two individuals of the appropriate sexes or mating types can produce fertile offspring, typically by sexual reproduction. Other ways of defining species include their karyotype, DNA sequence, morphology, behaviour or ecological niche. In addition, paleontologists use the concept of the chronospecies since fossil reproduction cannot be examined. While these definitions may seem adequate, when looked at more closely they represent problematic species concepts. For example, the boundaries between closely related species become unclear with hybridisation, in a species complex of hundreds of similar microspecies, and in a ring species. Also, among organisms that reproduce only asexually, the concept of a reproductive species breaks down, and each clone is potentially a microspecies.


The name comes from the Ancient Greek ἐχῖνος (echinos), meaning "hedgehog," and the Latin cereus meaning "candle." They are sometimes known as hedgehog cacti, [2] a term also used for the Pediocactus and Echinopsis . [3]

Ancient Greek Version of the Greek language used from roughly the 9th century BCE to the 6th century CE

The Ancient Greek language includes the forms of Greek used in Ancient Greece and the ancient world from around the 9th century BCE to the 6th century CE. It is often roughly divided into the Archaic period, Classical period, and Hellenistic period. It is antedated in the second millennium BCE by Mycenaean Greek and succeeded by medieval Greek.

Latin Indo-European language of the Italic family

Latin is a classical language belonging to the Italic branch of the Indo-European languages. The Latin alphabet is derived from the Etruscan and Greek alphabets and ultimately from the Phoenician alphabet.

<i>Pediocactus</i> genus of plants

Pediocactus is a genus of cacti. The genus comprises between 6 and 11 species, depending upon the authority. Species of this genus are referred to as hedgehog cacti, though that name is also applied to plants from the genera Echinocereus and Echinopsis. Species may also be referred to as pincushion cacti, a common name which is also applied to other genera.


Echinocereus are bushy and globular with tight spines which are often colorful and decorative. The flowers last slightly longer than those of other cacti.[ citation needed ]


Echinocereus is easier to cultivate than many other cacti.[ citation needed ] They need a light soil, a sunny exposure, a fresh and dry winter to flower. They like a soil slightly richer than other cacti. In the wild, several of the species are cold-hardy, tolerating temperatures as low as -23 °C but only in dry conditions.

Hardiness of plants describes their ability to survive adverse growing conditions. It is usually limited to discussions of climatic adversity. Thus a plant's ability to tolerate cold, heat, drought, flooding, or wind are typically considered measurements of hardiness. Hardiness of plants is defined by their native extent's geographic location: longitude, latitude and elevation. These attributes are often simplified to a hardiness zone. In temperate latitudes, the term most often describes resistance to cold, or "cold-hardiness", and is generally measured by the lowest temperature a plant can withstand. Hardiness of a plant is usually divided into two categories: tender, and hardy. Some sources also use the erroneous terms "Half-hardy" or "Fully hardy". Tender plants are those killed by freezing temperatures, while hardy plants survive freezing—at least down to certain temperatures, depending on the plant. "Half-hardy" is a term used sometimes in horticulture to describe bedding plants which are sown in heat in winter or early spring, and planted outside after all danger of frost has passed. "Fully hardy" usually refers to plants being classified under the Royal Horticultural Society classifications, and can often cause confusion to those not using this method.


Echinocereus knippelianus Echinocereus knippelianus 11.JPG
Echinocereus knippelianus
Echinocereus viridiflorus Echinocereus virdiflorus.JPG
Echinocereus viridiflorus
Echinocereus pectinatus Echinocereus pectinatus 3.JPG
Echinocereus pectinatus
Echinocereus stramineus Echinocereus stramineus 1.JPG
Echinocereus stramineus
Hedgehog cactus growing in the wild Wild Hedgehog Cactus Sahuarita Arizona 2013.jpg
Hedgehog cactus growing in the wild
Echinocereus reichenbachii var. reichenbachii Echinocereus reichenbachii by RO.jpg
Echinocereus reichenbachii var. reichenbachii
<i>Echinocereus arizonicus</i> species of plant

Echinocereus arizonicus is a species of cactus native to the Chihuahuan Desert region of Chihuahua, southwestern New Mexico and southeastern Arizona, as well as in the Superstition and Mescal Mountains of Central Arizona. An endangered variable of the species "Echinocereus triglochidiatus arizonicus" is found exclusively in sections of the Superstition, Mescal, and Pinal Mountains. Genetic studies have indicated that this variable of the species does not occur outside these mountain ranges.

Echinocereus berlandieri species of plant

Echinocereus berlandieri is a species of hedgehog cactus. Its range includes most of South Texas, and is commonly found along the Nueces River and the lower Rio Grande.

<i>Echinocereus bonkerae</i> species of plant

Echinocereus bonkerae, also known as pinkflower hedgehog cactus or Bonker hedgehog, is a species of hedgehog cactus.

[2] [4]

Formerly placed here

  • Echinopsis candicans (Gillies ex Salm-Dyck) F.A.C.Weber ex D.R.Hunt (as E. candicans(Gillies ex Salm-Dyck) Rümpler) [4]
<i>Echinopsis candicans</i> species of plant

Echinopsis candicans is a species of cactus from northern and western Argentina. It has large fragrant white flowers that open at night.

Related Research Articles

<i>Echinocactus</i> genus of plants

Echinocactus is a genus of cacti in the subfamily Cactoideae. The generic name derives from the Ancient Greek εχινος (echinos), meaning "spiny," and cactus. It and Ferocactus are the two genera of barrel cactus. Members of the genus usually have heavy spination and relatively small flowers. The fruits are copiously woolly, and this is one major distinction between Echinocactus and Ferocactus. Propagation is by seed.

<i>Ferocactus</i> genus of plants

Ferocactus is a genus of large barrel-shaped cacti, mostly with large spines and small flowers. There are about 30 species included in the genus. They are found in the southwestern United States and northwestern Mexico.

<i>Echinopsis peruviana</i> species of plant

Echinopsis peruviana, the Peruvian torch cactus, is a fast-growing columnar cactus native to the western slope of the Andes in Peru, between about 2,000–3,000 m (6,600–9,800 ft) above sea level. It contains the psychoactive alkaloid mescaline as well as other alkaloids, although reported levels vary considerably and do not approach the concentrations found in Echinopsis pachanoi.

Taxonomy of the Cactaceae

In 1984, the International Organization for Succulent Plant Study set up a working party, now called the International Cactaceae Systematics Group, to produce a consensus classification of the cactus family, down to the level of genus. Their classification has been used as the basis for systems published since the mid-1990s. Treatments in the 21st century have generally divided the family into around 125–130 genera and 1,400–1,500 species, which are then arranged in a number of tribes and subfamilies. However, subsequent molecular phylogenetic studies have shown that a very high proportion of the higher taxa are not monophyletic, i.e. they do not contain all of the descendants of a common ancestor. As of March 2017, the internal classification of the family Cactaceae remained uncertain and subject to change. A classification incorporating many of the insights from the molecular studies was produced by Nyffeler and Eggli in 2010.

<i>Thelocactus</i> genus of plants

Thelocactus is a genus in the cactus family, Cactaceae. Members of the genus are native to the arid lands of Central and Northern Mexico.

Ceroid cactus

The term ceroid cactus is used to describe any of the species of cacti with very elongated bodies, including columnar growth cacti and epiphytic cacti. The name is from the Latin cēreus, wax taper, referring to the stiff, upright form of the columnar species. Some species of ceroid cacti were known as torch cactus or torch-thistle, supposedly due to their use as torches by Native Americans in the past.

<i>Rhipsalis</i> genus of plants

Rhipsalis is a genus of flowering plants in the cactus family, typically known as mistletoe cacti. They are found in parts of Central America, the Caribbean and northern regions of South America. Additionally they inhabit isolated locations in Africa and Asia, and are the only cactus group naturally occurring in the Old World. This is the largest and most widely distributed genus of epiphytic cacti.

<i>Hatiora</i> genus of plants

Hatiora is a small genus of epiphytic cacti which belongs to the tribe Rhipsalideae within the subfamily Cactoideae of the Cactaceae. Some Hatiora species are well known and widely cultivated ornamentals, known as Easter cactus or Whitsun cactus. Recent taxonomic studies have led to the three species of subgenus Rhipsalidopsis being transferred into the closely related genus Schlumbergera, though this change has not been widely adopted.

<i>Echinocereus reichenbachii</i> species of plant

Echinocereus reichenbachii is a perennial plant and shrub in the cactus family. The species is native to the Chihuahuan Desert and parts of northern Mexico and the southern United States, where they grow at elevations up to 1,500 meters (4,900 ft). This cactus earned the Royal Horticultural Society's Award of Garden Merit.

Succulent plant plants having some parts that are more than normally thickened and fleshy

In botany, succulent plants, also known as succulents, are plants that have some parts that are more than normally thickened and fleshy, usually to retain water in arid climates or soil conditions. The word "succulent" comes from the Latin word sucus, meaning juice, or sap. Succulent plants may store water in various structures, such as leaves and stems. Some definitions also include roots, thus geophytes that survive unfavorable periods by dying back to underground storage organs may be regarded as succulents. In horticultural use, the term "succulent" is sometimes used in a way which excludes plants that botanists would regard as succulents, such as cacti. Succulents are often grown as ornamental plants because of their striking and unusual appearance.

Many cacti are known to be psychoactive, containing phenethylamine alkaloids such as mescaline However, the two main ritualistic (folkloric) genera are Echinopsis, of which the most psychoactive species is the San Pedro cactus, and Lophophora, with peyote being the most psychoactive species. Several other species pertaining to other genera are also psychoactive, though not always used with a ritualistic intent.

<i>Cereus</i> (plant) genus of plants

Cereus is a genus of cacti including around 33 species of large columnar cacti from South America. The name is derived from Greek (κηρός) and Latin words meaning "wax" or "torch". The genus Cereus was one of the first cactus genera to be described; the circumscription varies depending on the authority. The term "cereus" is also sometimes used for a ceroid cactus, any cactus with a very elongated body, including columnar growth cacti and epiphytic cacti.

<i>Echinocereus × neomexicanus</i> species of plant

Echinocereus × neomexicanus is a natural hybrid between Echinocereus coccineus subsp. rosei and Echinocereus viridiflorus subsp. chloranthus. Lyman Benson confused the plant with Echinocereus coccineus subsp. rosei under the name Echinocereus triglochidiatus var. neomexicanus. The plant was originally described by Paul Carpenter Standley in Bulletin of the Torrey Botanical Club 35:87 (1908) based on a specimen growing in the cactus garden of the New Mexico College of Agriculture and Mechanic Arts from among hundreds of specimens he had collected from the mesa west of the Organ Mountains.

<i>Thelocactus bicolor</i> species of plant

Thelocactus bicolor, the glory of Texas, is a species of flowering plant in the cactus family, widely distributed in the northern Chihuahuan Desert of the USA (Texas) and Mexico. Plants are usually solitary, but may form clumps. Growing to 50 cm (20 in) tall, it is a perennial with spiny, ribbed, succulent stems. Large daisy-like flowers, up to 8 cm (3.1 in) in diameter, are borne in summer. The petals are purplish-pink, fading to white. The inner petal tips form a circle of red surrounding a prominent yellow boss.


  1. 1 2 "Genus: Echinocereus Engelm". Germplasm Resources Information Network. United States Department of Agriculture. 2004-02-13. Retrieved 2011-04-10.
  2. 1 2 "Echinocereus". Integrated Taxonomic Information System . Retrieved 2011-04-10.
  3. "Echinopsis (Hedgehog Cacti)". Cactus and Succulent Society of Australia. Archived from the original on 2008-07-20. Retrieved 2008-07-29.
  4. 1 2 "GRIN Species Records of Echinocereus". Germplasm Resources Information Network. United States Department of Agriculture. Retrieved 2011-04-10.


  • Fischer, Pierre C. 70 Common Cacti of the Southwest. City unknown: Southwest Parks and Monuments Association, 1989.
  • Anderson, Miles (1998). The Ultimate Book of Cacti and Succulents. ISBN   1-85967-460-7. Lorenz Books.
  • Innes C, Wall B (1995). Cacti' Succulents and Bromaliads. Cassell & The Royal Horticultural Society.
  • Anderson, Edward F. : "The Cactus Family" (2001)
  • Taylor, Nigel P.: The Genus Echinocereus. Kew Magazine Monograph, Timber Press 1985, ISBN   0-88192-052-5
  • Blum, Lange, Rischer & Rutow: Echinocereus, (1998)
  • Echinocereus on
  • Echinocereus Online (in German)
  • USDA PLANTS Profile
  • "Black Lace Cactus (Echinocereus reichenbachii var. albertii)". Endangered and Threatened Species. Texas Parks and Wildlife Department.