Ferocactus gen nov

Globular to cylindric, often large cacti; ribs thick and prominent; spines well developed, either straight or hooked; areoles usually large, bearing flowers only when young and then only just above the spine-clusters, more or less felted when young; flowers usually large, broadly funnel-shaped to campanulate, usually with a very short tube; stamens numerous, borne on the throat, short; ovary and flower-tube very scaly; scales naked in their axils; fruit oblong, usually thick-walled and dry, dehiscing by a large basal pore; seeds black, pitted, never tuberculate; embryo curved.

Type species: Echinocactus wislizeni Engelmann.

The oldest species in this genus is Ferocactus nobilis which was collected by William Houston in Mexico before 1733. It was described by Miller in the Gardeners' Magazine 7th ed. 1759. Upon this description Linnaeus in 1767 (Mantissa 243) based his Cactus nobilis and Miller in 1768 (Gard. Mag.) his Cactus recurvus.

The generic name is from ferus wild, fierce, and cactus, referring to the very spiny character of the plants.

We recognize 30 species, heretofore treated under Echinocactus, all from North America. The genus differs from Echinocactus proper in its fruits and flowers.

Continue reading here: Key to Species

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