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Classification System: APG IV

Superregnum: Eukaryota
Regnum: Plantae
Cladus: Angiosperms
Cladus: Eudicots
Cladus: Core eudicots
Ordo: Caryophyllales

Familia: Cactaceae
Subfamilia: Cactoideae
Tribus: Hylocereeae
Genus: Acanthocereus
Species: A. canoensis – A. castellae – A. chiapensis – A. cuixmalensis – A. fosterianus – A. haackeanus – A. hesperius – A. hirschtianus – A. macdougallii – A. maculatus – A. oaxacensis – A. paradoxus – A. rosei – A. tepalcatepecanus – A. tetragonus
Source(s) of checklist:

Korotkova, N. et al. 2021. Acanthocereus in Cactaceae at A global synthesis of species diversity in the angiosperm order Caryophyllales. Published on the internet. Accessed: 2021 Dec 21. Reference page.


Acanthocereus (Engelm.) Britton & Rose (1909)
Lectotype species: Acanthocereus baxaniensis (Karwinsky ex Pfeiffer) Borg, vide Hunt (1991). (Cereus baxaniensis Karw. ex Pfeiff.)


Cereus subg. Acanthocereus Engelm., Trans. Acad. Sci. St. Louis, 2: 202–204 (1863).

Cereus subsect. Acanthocereus (Engelm.) A.Berger, Rep. (Annual) Missouri Bot. Gard. 16: 77 (1905)

Cereus subsect. Acutanguli Salm-Dyck, Cact. Hort. Dyck. 1849: 49. (1850).
Type species: Cereus acutangulus Pfeiff.
Cereus [infragen.unranked] Articulati Salm-Dyck, Cact. Hort. Dyck. (1841): 29 (1841), p.p.
Type species: non design.
Cereus [infragen.unranked] Extensi Pfeiff., Enum. Diagn. Cact. 107 (1837), nom. illeg. (Art. 53.1)
Cereus [infragen.unranked] Variabiles Salm-Dyck, Cact. Hort. Dyck. 1849: 49 (1850).
Type species: Cereus variabilis Pfeiff.
Peniocereus subg. Pseudoacanthocereus Sanchez-Mej., Cact. Suc. Mex. 19(2): 38 (1974).
Type species: Peniocereus maculatus (Weing.) Cutak


The genus is sometimes treated as monotypic.


Britton, N.L. & Rose, J.N. (1909) Contr. U.S. Natl. Herb. 12: 432.

Additional references

Doweld, A.B. 2005. Adjustments in the nomenclature of the genera Acanthocereus, Heliocereus and Nyctocereus (Cactaceae). Sukkulenty 8(1–2): 13–15. Reference page.
Arias, S. & al. (2005) Phylogenetic relationships in Peniocereus (Cactaceae) inferred from plastid DNA sequence data. Journal of Plant Research 118 (5): 317–328.
Hunt, D. (1991) Bradleya 9: 82.
Hunt, D. (1998) Further notes on Acanthocereus (Engelmann ex Berger) B. and R. Cactaceae Consensus Initiatives 5: 15–17.
Hunt, D. (2000) Notes on miscellaneous genera of Cactaceae subfam. Cactoideae. Acanthocereus. Cactaceae Systematics Initiatives 9: 13–15.
Korotkova, N., Aquino, D., Arias, S., Eggli, U., Franck, A., Gómez-Hinostrosa, C., Guerrero, P.C., Hernández, H.M., Kohlbecker, A., Köhler, M., Luther, K., Majure, L.C., Müller, A., Metzing, D., Nyffeler, R., Sánchez, D., Schlumpberger, B. & Berendsohn, W.G. 2021. Cactaceae at Caryophyllales. org–a dynamic online species-level taxonomic backbone for the family. Willdenowia 51(2): 251–270. DOI: 10.3372/wi.51.51208 Open access Reference page.


Korotkova, N. et al. 2021. Acanthocereus in Cactaceae at A global synthesis of species diversity in the angiosperm order Caryophyllales. Published on the internet. Accessed: 2021 Dec 21. Reference page.
Govaerts, R. et al. 2021. Acanthocereus in Kew Science Plants of the World online. The Board of Trustees of the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew. Published on the internet. Accessed: 2021 Dec 21. Reference page.
International Plant Names Index. 2021. Acanthocereus. Published online. Accessed: Dec 21 2021. 2021. Acanthocereus. Missouri Botanical Garden. Published on the internet. Accessed: 2021 Dec 21.
Hassler, M. 2021. Acanthocereus. World Plants: Synonymic Checklists of the Vascular Plants of the World In: Roskovh, Y., Abucay, L., Orrell, T., Nicolson, D., Bailly, N., Kirk, P., Bourgoin, T., DeWalt, R.E., Decock, W., De Wever, A., Nieukerken, E. van, Zarucchi, J. & Penev, L., eds. 2021. Species 2000 & ITIS Catalogue of Life. Published on the internet. Accessed: 2021 Dec 21. Reference page.

Vernacular names
English: Barbed-wire cactus, sword-pear, triangle cactus
lietuvių: Sijūnas
русский: Акантоцереус
svenska: Snårpelarkaktussläktet

Acanthocereus is a genus of cacti. Its species take the form of shrubs with arching or climbing stems up to several meters in height. The generic name is derived from the Greek word άκανθα (acantha), meaning spine,[3] and the Latin word cereus, meaning candle.[4] The genus is native to the mostly tropical Americas from Texas and the southern tip of Florida to the northern part of South America (Colombia and Venezuela), including islands of the Caribbean.[5]

Barbed-wire Cactus habit

The plants form bushes which later usually overhanging or spreading and are rarely tree-shaped. Stems have 3 to 5 ribs, typically thin, with stout spines. The large, white, funnel-shaped flowers are night-opening, 12–25 cm (4.7–9.8 in) long and 6–12 cm (2.4–4.7 in) in diameter and open at night. The little scaly pericarpel and the long, stiff, upright flower tube are covered with a few thorns that soon decay and little wool. The fruits are spherical to ovoid or pear-shaped red or green, bare or thorny, tear-open or non-tear-open and contain broadly oval, shiny black seeds of up to 4.8 millimeter.


The name was first used by George Engelmann in 1863, although he did not describe its characters, leaving it to Alwin Berger in 1905 to define it as a subsection of Cereus. In 1909, Nathaniel Britton and Joseph Nelson Rose elevated Acanthocereus to a genus.[6]

As of March 2021, Plants of the World Online accepted the following species:[5]

Acanthocereus canoensis (P.R.House, Gómez-Hin. & H.M.Hern.) S.Arias & N.Korotkova
Acanthocereus castellae (Sánchez-Mej.) Lodé
Acanthocereus chiapensis Bravo
Acanthocereus cuixmalensis (Sánchez-Mej.) Lodé
Acanthocereus fosterianus (Cutak) Lodé
Acanthocereus haackeanus Backeb. ex Lodé
Acanthocereus hesperius D.R.Hunt
Acanthocereus hirschtianus (K.Schum.) Lodé
Acanthocereus macdougallii (Cutak) Lodé
Acanthocereus maculatus Weingart ex Bravo
Acanthocereus oaxacensis (Britton & Rose) Lodé
Acanthocereus rosei (J.G.Ortega) Lodé
Acanthocereus tepalcatepecanus (Sánchez-Mej.) Lodé
Acanthocereus tetragonus (L.) Hummelinck

Species formerly placed in the genus that have been moved to other genera include:

Acanthocereus brasiliensis Britton & Rose → Strophocactus brasiliensis[2]
Acanthocereus sicariguensis Croizat & Tamayo → Strophocactus sicariguensis[2]

Barbed-wire Cactus stem

Acanthocereus tetragonus, commonly known as Barbed-wire Cactus, Chaco, Nun-tsusuy, or Órgano, is the most widespread of the genus and the largest, reaching 2–7 m (6.6–23.0 ft) tall.

"Acanthocereus (Engelm. ex A. Berger) Britton & Rose". Germplasm Resources Information Network. United States Department of Agriculture. 4 December 2007. Archived from the original on 2011-06-06. Retrieved 2009-12-04.
Korotkova, Nadja; Borsch, Thomas & Arias, Salvador (2017). "A phylogenetic framework for the Hylocereeae (Cactaceae) and implications for the circumscription of the genera" (PDF). Phytotaxa. 327 (1): 1–46. doi:10.11646/phytotaxa.327.1.1.
Eggli, U.; Newton, L.E. (2004). Etymological Dictionary of Succulent Plant Names. Springer Berlin Heidelberg. p. 1. ISBN 978-3-540-00489-9. Retrieved 2018-09-20.
Couplan, François; James Duke (1998). Encyclopedia of Edible Plants of North America. McGraw Hill Professional. p. 92. ISBN 978-0-87983-821-8.
"Acanthocereus (A.Berger) Britton & Rose". Plants of the World Online. Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew. Retrieved 2021-03-07.
Anderson, Edward F. (2001). The Cactus Family. Timber Press. pp. 106–108. ISBN 978-0-88192-498-5.

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