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Melocactus lemairei

Classification System: APG IV

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

Familia: Cactaceae
Subfamilia: Cactoideae
Tribus: Cereeae
Subtribus: Cereinae
Genus: Melocactus
Species: Melocactus lemairei

Melocactus lemairei (Monv. ex Lem.) Miq. ex Lem., Hort. Univ. 1: 286, fig.


Echinocactus lemairei Monv. ex Lem., Cact. Aliq. Nov.: 17. 1838 syn. sec. Hunt 2006
Cactus lemairei (Monv. ex Lem.) Britton & Rose, Cactaceae 3: 226. 1922 syn. sec. Hunt 2006
Melocactus communis var. macrocephalus Link & Otto in Verh. Vereins Beförd. Gartenbaues Königl. Preuss. Staaten 3: 418. 1827 syn. sec. Kew WCVP (2019)
Melocactus communis var. conicus Pfeiff., Enum. Diagn. Cact.: 43. 1837 syn. sec. Kew WCVP (2019)
Melocactus crassispinus Salm-Dyck in Allg. Gartenzeitung 8: 10. 1840 syn. sec. Hunt 2006
Melocactus conicus Lawr. in Gard. Mag. (London) 17: 319. 1841 syn. sec. Kew WCVP (2019)
Melocactus macrocephalus Lawr. in Gard. Mag. (London) 17: 319. 1841 syn. sec. Kew WCVP (2019)
Melocactus pycnacanthus Cels ex Miq. in Nova Acta Phys.-Med. Acad. Caes. Leop.-Carol. Nat. Cur. 18 (Suppl. 1): 200 b. 1841 syn. sec. Kew WCVP (2019)
Melocactus hispaniolicus Vaupel in Monatsschr. Kakteenk. 29: 121. 1919 syn. sec. Hunt 2006

Native distribution areas:

Continental: Southern America
Regional: Caribbean
Dominican Republic, Haiti

References: Brummitt, R.K. 2001. TDWG – World Geographical Scheme for Recording Plant Distributions, 2nd Edition
Primary references

Lemaire, C. (1840) L'Horticulteur Universel, Journal Général des Jardiniers et Amateurs 1: 286, fig.

Additional references

Acevedo-Rodríguez, P. & Strong, M.T. (2012). Catalogue of seed plants of the West Indies Smithsonian Contributions to Botany 98: 1-1192.
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. Melocactus lemairei in Cactaceae at A global synthesis of species diversity in the angiosperm order Caryophyllales. Published online. Accessed: 2021 Nov 30. Reference page.
Govaerts, R. et al. 2021. Melocactus lemairei in Kew Science Plants of the World online. The Board of Trustees of the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew. Published online. Accessed: 2021 Apr 04. Reference page.
International Plant Names Index. 2021. Melocactus lemairei. Published online. Accessed: Apr 04 2021. 2021. Melocactus lemairei. Missouri Botanical Garden. Published online. Accessed: 04 Apr 2021.
Hassler, M. 2021. Melocactus lemairei. 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 online. Accessed: 2021 Apr 04. Reference page.

Vernacular names

Melocactus lemairei is a species of cactus endemic to the Caribbean island of Hispaniola (split between the Dominican Republic and Haiti). It is named after French botanist and cactus expert Charles Antoine Lemaire.[4]


Melocactus lemairei was described by M. Chevalier de Monville, Charles Antoine Lemaire, and Friedrich Anton Wilhelm Miquel, and published in L'Horticulteur Universel.[5]

Melocactus lemairei is a cylindrical or slightly pyramid-shaped green cactus that can grow up to 20 cm (8 inches) in height, and 20 to 30 cm (8 to 12 inches) in diameter. It has between 9 and 10 ribs with 8 to 10 spines each. These spines are yellow to brown in color, and can reach anywhere from 2 to 3 cm (1 inch) in length. The cephalium is brown, with white wool and thorn-like bristles, and grows up to 10 cm (4 inches). The flowers are pink, and grow to 2 cm long; they also have a diameter of 1.5 cm, protruding up to 1.2 cm from the cephalium. The pink fruits are up to 2 cm long.
Distribution and habitat

Melocactus lemairei is endemic to Hispaniola, in the Hispaniolan dry forests ecoregion. It grows in dry, rocky soils, and also occurs in humid depressions. It can also be found on sea cliffs and rocky offshore islands. There is a notable population around Lake Enriquillo and its lake island, Isla Cabritos.

Melocactus lemairei is listed as Near Threatened on the IUCN Red List, due to it being found in less than 10 locations on Hispaniola, as well as being threatened by collection from the wild, and land clearing for agriculture, industry, and urban development.

Based on current knowledge of habitat degradation in Haiti, as well as it only containing one known population of this species (in and around Gonaïves), Melocactus lemairei is probably under threat in Haiti. This species is threatened by collection from the wild in the Dominican Republic; the cactus is often used as medicine and sold.

Taylor, N.P. & Gann, G.D. (2017). "Melocactus lemairi". IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. 2017: e.T152738A121546770. doi:10.2305/IUCN.UK.2017-3.RLTS.T152738A121546770.en. Retrieved 10 September 2020.
Melocactus lemairei on The Plant List.
Melocactus lemairei on Cactiguide.
Urs Eggli, Leonard E. Newton: Etymological Dictionary of Succulent Plant Names. Springer, Berlin/Heidelberg 2010, ISBN 978-3-642-05597-3, S. 135.
"Melocactus lemairei". Missouri Botanical Garden. Retrieved September 10, 2020.

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