Anhalonium areolosum

Anhalonium areolosum ()
🌵 Author(s)
🌵 Published in Ill. Hort. vi. Misc.: 35 (1859)

Latin ārĕŏla ‘areole’ + Latin –о̄sus ‘full of’. For the presence of areoles. The generic name Anhalonium (Greek an- ‘without’ + Greek halōnion ‘areole’) refers to the supposed absence of areoles.


Here is certainly a generic name and a specific name that clash together, a highly characterized nominal antithesis! We cannot avoid it; we must confess our guilt in the presence of the truly extraordinary plant that we have before our eyes […]. It once again proves how Nature scoffs at human speculations when man arrogantly attempts to rigorously define, limit, and methodically circumscribe, based on his limited perspective, the things within its vast domain!

The genus Anhalonium, established by us in 1859 […], and since then adopted by all botanists and horticultural writers who have dealt with the plants it comprises, had, as its principal distinguishing feature, the absence of areoles, an essential distinctive organ of the beautiful and curious family to which it belongs. Indeed, A[nhalonium] prismaticum Nob. [Latin nobis ‘[published] by us’], the type of this genus, and the numerous individuals we examined then and since, had not shown any areoles or even their vestiges on the podaria that crown its caudex. However, while mature individuals subjected to our investigations did not display such features, later, very young individuals born from seeds collected from them revealed true areoles at the extreme top of their podaria, along with fasciculated setae, genuine bristle-like spines. These areoles and setae disappeared soon as the young plants developed.

Soon after this first descriptive contradiction, a second, even more significant one joined:

Soon, in European collections, another new and distinct species of the same genus appeared, equipped with genuine and evident areoles, albeit very small, at the tip of each of its podaria (A[nhalonium] pulvilligerum Nob.). This second, more emphatic contradiction is now being presented by Nature itself through the plant under discussion, which, due to its highly distinct areoles and their rudimentary yet evident spines, brings the genus Anhalonium (if only we could, without causing disturbance in the nomenclature, change this now inaccurate denomination?) back into the linear series of its confreres, from which it now only differs in form, yet strikingly so, of its podaria.

How to cite

Maarten H.J. van der Meer (2023 Jul 24). Anhalonium areolosum. Dictionary of Cactus Names. Retrieved from