The 43 Coryphantha species are plants of the Mexican highlands, their main distribution area extends from the Sierra Madre Oriental to the Sierra Madre Occidental and to the Sierra Madre del Sur. Six species (C. sulcata, C. ramillosa, C. recurvata, C. robustspina, C. echinus and C. macromeris) also occur on the other side of the Rio Grande in the southernmost states of the USA (Texas, New Mexico and Arizona).
The only species which occurs in some places south of the Sierra Madre del Sur, mainly along the Rio Balsas and South of Oaxaca, is C. elephantidens with its ssp. bumamma.
The Sierra Madre Oriental is more habitable for Coryphantha spp. thanks to the large river valleys towards the Gulf of Mexico. Here, again, it is C. elephantidens with its ssp. green-woodii, which has an isolated habitat on the eastern slopes of Puerto del Aire near Acultzingo VER. To the north of the distribution area, C. macromeris ssp. runyonii reaches the coastal plains along the Rio Grande. In the region in between, in the states of Tamaulipas and Nuevo Leon, there are two species whose distribution area is exclusively restricted to the eastern slopes of the Sierra and the plains extending below it: C. salinensis and C. nickel-siae.
The distribution maps are shown on colour Plates 5 and 9-13.
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