Cactus L., ()
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Greek kaktos, a prickly plant found in Sicily, possibly the cardoon or artichoke thistle (Cynara cardunculus). The only cactus genus accepted by Linnaeus, who shortened the name from Echinomelocactus. Used by Britton and Rose instead of Melocactus, but now considered a synonym of Mammillaria. Still in use as a vernacular name for all species in the family Cactaceae, which takes its name from this genus.

For a short nomenclatural history of this genus, see Roy Mottram, Cactician 4: 45-46. 2014.

How to cite

van der Meer, Maarten H.J. (2022, February 5). Cactus. Dictionary of Cactus Names. Retrieved from


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

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