Pilocereus Lem., ()
🌵 Author(s)
🌵 Type not cited

Greek pilos ‘wool’ + Cereus, the name of a genus of columnar cacti and a designation for columnar cacti in general. For the cephalium, which Lemaire compared to a “wool cap”. Not from “Gr.” (actually Latin) pīleus ‘cap, hat’ (Boerner, Taschenwörterbuch der botanischen Pflanzennamen. 4. Auflage. 1989).

This genus originally included only Cereus senilis and Cereus columna-trajani. Lemaire suggested creating a separate genus for these two species in 1838, which Louis Pfeiffer did under the name Cephalocereus later that year. Lemaire, apparently unaware of this, published the name Pilocereus for the same two species the next year.

Pilocereus is therefore a later synonym of Cephalocereus. Karl Schumann (1899) tried to salvage the name by excluding the original two species, but this is not acceptable under the International Code of Nomenclature and a proposal to conserve Schumann’s Pilocereus over Lemaire’s was rejected in 1954. Three years later, Ronald Byles and Gordon Rowley published Pilosocereus as a replacement name for Pilocereus in the sense of Schumann.

How to cite

van der Meer, Maarten H.J. (2022, July 17). Pilocereus. Dictionary of Cactus Names. Retrieved from https://www.cactusnames.org/Pilocereus


A.T. Johnson, H.A. Smith & A.P. Stockdale (2019): Plant Names Simplified, 3rd Edition

“Botanical Latin is essentially a written language, but the scientific names of plants often occur in speech. How they are pronounced really matters little provided they sound pleasant and are understood by all concerned.”

William T. Stearn (1983): Botanical Latin, 3rd Edition: 53