The Generic Name Coryphantha and the Type Species

Among the 22 cacti which LINNÉ (1753) mentioned in Species Plantarum, only one species is a closer relative of the genus Coryphantha: Mammillaria mammillaris (in Linné Cactus mammillaris), the type species of the genus Mammillaria, which itself is the type genus of the tribe Cacteae of the subfamily Cactoideae of the Cactaceae. In fact, all cacti should be named Mammillariaceae, but the name Cactaceae has been conserved (nomen conservandum).

The generic name Mammillaria itself is also a nomen conservandum,on the one hand, against Linné's genus Cactus, on the other hand, against an earlier homonym, the algae-species Mammillaria.

Linné's generic name Cactus was soon given up, because it included too many species unrelated to each other. Nevertheless, around 1900 two authors (KUNTZE 1891 and J.M. COULTER 1894) restored the genus Cactus and combined, with Cactus mammillaris as type species, all former Mammillaria species, among them many Coryphantha sp., to Cactus.

With BRITTON and ROSE (1923) only, the generic name Cactus was given up definitely, because it also included Melocactus, a fact which inevitably led to nomenclatural confusion.

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