Cereus Mill. ()
🌵 Author(s)
🌵 Type Cereus hexagonus

Latin cērĕus ‘wax-light, taper’. Apparently for the candle-like habit of Cereus hexagonus. Cereus repandus was reportedly used as a torch.

Cereus is a pre-Linnaean name dating back to Pena and Lobelius (1571). Linnaeus recognized only one cactus genus, Cactus, but Cereus was reinstated by Philip Miller in 1754. Almost all columnar cactus species were assigned to this genus until Britton and Rose split it up in 1920. In English and other modern languages “Cereus” is still used as a name for columnar cacti in general. In 1934 Alberto Vojtěch Frič and Kurt G. Kreuzinger (invalidly) renamed Aporocactus, Bergerocactus, Borzicactus, Cleistocactus, Corryocactus, Eccremocactus, Mediocactus, Myrtillocactus, Strophocactus and Zygocactus to Aporocereus, Bergerocereus, Borzicereus, Cleistocereus, Corryocereus, Eccremocereus, Mediocereus, Myrtillocereus, Strophocereus and Zygocereus because they were of the opinion that the term “cactus” should be reserved for globular cactus species, while columnar species should be called “cereus”.

How to cite

van der Meer, Maarten H.J. (2022, February 5). Cereus. Dictionary of Cactus Names. Retrieved from https://www.cactusnames.org/Cereus


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


Ross Bayton (2019): The Garderner's Botanical


Helmut Genaust (1996): Etymologisches Wörterbuch der botanischen Pflanzennamen, 3. Auflage

“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