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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: Cacteae
Genus: Thelocactus
Species: T. bicolor – T. buekii – T. conothelos – T. hastifer – T. hexaedrophorus – T. lausseri – T. leucacanthus – T. macdowelii – T. × mirandus – T. multicephalus – T. rinconensis – T. setispinus – T. tepelmemensis – T. tulensis

Source(s) of checklist:

Govaerts, R. et al. 2021. Thelocactus in Kew Science Plants of the World online. The Board of Trustees of the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew. Published on the internet. Accessed: 2021 Mar 28. Reference page.


Thelocactus (K.Schum.) Britton & Rose, Bull. Torrey Bot. Club 49: 251 (1922).
Type species: Thelocactus hexaedrophorus Britton & Rose


Echinocactus subg. Thelocactus K.Schum., Gesamtbeschr. Kakt. 292, 429 (1898).

Thelocactus sect. Hexaedrophori Kladiwa & Fittkau in Krainz, Die Kakteen (61): CVIIIb: [3] (1975), nom. inval.
Thelomastus Frič, in Kreuz., Verzeichnis Amer. Sukk. Rev. Syst. Kakteen 10 (1935), nom. illeg.

Thelocactus sect. Bicolores Kladiwa & Fittkau in Krainz, Die Kakteen (61): CVIIIb: [3] (1975), nom. inval.
Type species: Thelocactus bicolor (Galeotti ex Pfeiff.) Britton & Rose
Hamatocactus Britton & Rose
Torreycactus Doweld


Britton, N.L. & Rose, J.N. 1922. The Cactaceae. Descriptions and Illustrations of Plants of the Cactus Family. Vol. 3. 255 pp. + 23 pl. Carnegie Institution of Washington. BHL PDF Reference page. : 49: 251.
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. Thelocactus in Cactaceae at A global synthesis of species diversity in the angiosperm order Caryophyllales. Published on the internet. Accessed: 2021 Nov 25. Reference page.
Govaerts, R. et al. 2021. Thelocactus in Kew Science Plants of the World online. The Board of Trustees of the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew. Published on the internet. Accessed: 2021 Mar 28. Reference page.
International Plant Names Index. 2021. Thelocactus. Published online. Accessed: Mar 28 2021. 2021. Thelocactus. Missouri Botanical Garden. Published on the internet. Accessed: 2021 Mar 28.
Hassler, M. 2021. Thelocactus. 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 Mar 28. Reference page.

Vernacular names
lietuvių: Ežinėlis
русский: Телокактус
svenska: Brokkaktussläktet
中文: 緋冠龍屬

Thelocactus is a genus of flowering plants in the cactus family Cactaceae. Members of the genus are native to the arid lands of Central and Northern Mexico.


Thelocactus species are globe-shaped, short and cylindrical. They are small cacti, although there are one or two species which, while only about 15 cm high, can be 25 cm in diameter; for example, T. nidulans. Thelocactus species are generally solitary, but some varieties will cluster in groups.

The ribs on Thelocactus species are very clearly marked and are sometimes twisted in a spiral. There can be from 8 to 20 ribs, which are rather low and normally marked with raised, angular or hexagonal tubercles. These tubercles can sometimes be difficult to distinguish. Areoles sit in a furrow directly above where the spines grow and there can be up to twenty radial/radiating spines. They are often needle-like, spread out and can be from 1.3 – 1.5 cm long. The central spines are mostly coarser, number up to six, stand vertically out from the plant and can be 2.5 – 7.5 cm long. Colours of all of the spines vary and include white, gray, golden-yellow and red-brown.

Flowers grow from the new areoles at the very top of the plant. They are funnel-shaped, have a diameter of 2.5 – 7.5 cm and their colours vary from white to shades of yellow, red or purple. They are diurnal. Fruits are small, globe-shaped and plain. They are dehiscent through the large basal pore, green to brownish purple [to magenta], spherical to short cylindrical, 5 - 18 x 6 – 17 mm, not juicy, drying immediately after ripening, scaly, spineless, hairless and with floral remnant persistent.

Thelocactus species grow in the wild in central and North Mexico and in the US in Texas. In Mexico, the species are generally concentrated along and to the west of the Sierra Madre Oriental beginning with T. hastifer in Querétaro State, about 150 km NNW of Mexico City. One subspecies (T. bicolor ssp. flavidispinus) grows on the other (northern) side of the Rio Grande, well distributed in the Big Bend area of Texas. Other occurrences of T. bicolor in Texas have been reported but cited verification is sketchy although it would be odd if they did not occur there. Some species are distributed over a wide area of many Mexican states (T. bicolor and its subspecies and T. hexaedrophorus) with T. bicolor and its current (2013) botanically accepted subspecies bolaensis, flavidispinus, heterochromus and schwarzii having the widest distribution. In contrast, one species, T. lausseri, only occurs in one known remote locality in central Coahuila state. Species are distributed in mountainous stony/rocky places or grassy territory with clay soil.

Thelocactus species are generally easy to cultivate, even if many species fail to flower until they are five years old. Soils should be composed of equal proportions of sand and humus. Water normally from Spring to Autumn. In Winter, keep most species at a minimum temperature of 8 °C. They can survive at lower temperatures but the roots then must be kept dry. The dark brown or black seeds can be relatively large for the size of cactus and they germinate readily.

Reproduction is nearly always from seed, since the plant rarely produces plantlets. The seed should be put in a sand and compost mixture, kept moist, maintained at a temperature of 21 °C and placed in a shady position.

Thelocactus bicolor has gained the Royal Horticultural Society's Award of Garden Merit.[2]

The following genera have been brought to synonymy with Thelocactus:

Hamatocactus Britton & Rose

This genus contained 8 species and was known from the Southwest United States and in northern Mexico. The name Hamatocactus means "hooked cactus" in Latin.

Thelomastus Fric (nom. inval.)


Species recognized by International Cactaceae Systematics Group. (Anderson E. F., 2001)

Image Scientific name Sub-species Distribution
Thelocactus bicolor (Echinocactus) (3425116340).jpg Thelocactus bicolor (Galeotti ex Pfeiffer) Britton & Rose
  • Thelocactus bicolor subsp. flavidispinus (Backeb.) N.P.Taylor
  • Thelocactus bicolor subsp. schwarzii (Backeb.) N.P.Taylor (syn. Thelocactus bicolor var. bolaensis, var. schotti, var. texensis, var. tricolor)
northern Chihuahuan Desert of the USA (Texas) and Mexico.
Thelocactus conothelos 01.jpg Thelocactus conothelos (Regel & Klein) Backeb. & F.M.Knuth
  • Thelocactus conothelos subsp. argenteus (Glass & R.Foster) Glass
  • Thelocactus conothelos subsp. aurantiacus (Glass & R.Foster) Glass (syn.Thelocactus conothelos subsp. flavus)
Mexico (Chihuahua, Coahuila de Zaragoza, Durango, Nuevo León, Tamaulipas)
Thelocactus garciae Glass & M.Mendoza Mexico (Tamaulipas )
Thelocactus hastifer (7266753224).jpg Thelocactus hastifer (Werdermann & Boedeker) F.M.Knuth Mexico (Querétaro de Arteaga)
Thelocactus heterochrontus (F.A.C.Weber) Oosten Mexico(Chihuahua, Durango, Zacatecas )
Thelocactus hexaedrophorus kz01.jpg Thelocactus hexaedrophorus (Lemaire) Britton & Rose
  • Thelocactus hexaedrophorus subsp. lloydii (Britton & Rose) N.P.Taylor (syn. Thelocactus fossulatus)
Mexico (Nuevo León, San Luis Potosí, Tamaulipas, Zacatecas)
Thelocactus lausseri GotBot 2015 003.jpg Thelocactus lausseri Riha & Busek Mexico ( Coahuila de Zaragoza )
Thelocactus leucacanthus 02.jpg Thelocactus leucacanthus (Zuccarini) Britton & Rose
  • Thelocactus leucacanthus subsp. schmollii (Werderm.) Mosco & Zanovello
Mexico (Hidalgo, Querétaro de Arteaga)
Thelocactus macdowellii 02.jpg Thelocactus macdowellii (Rebut ex Quehl) Glass Mexico (Coahuila de Zaragoza, Nuevo León)
Thelocactus rinconensis.jpg Thelocactus rinconensis (Poselger) Britton & Rose
  • Thelocactus rinconensis subsp. hintonii M.Luthy (syn. Thelocactus nidulans, T. lophothele, T. phymathothelos)
Mexico (Coahuila de Zaragoza, Nuevo León)
Thelocactus setispinus (2).JPG Thelocactus setispinus (Engelmann) E.F.Anderson

(syn. Hamatocactus setispinus)

Mexico (Coahuila de Zaragoza, Nuevo León, Tamaulipas), USA (Texas)
Thelocactus tulensis GotBot 2015 001.jpg Thelocactus tulensis (Poselger) Britton & Rose
  • Thelocactus tulensis subsp. buekii (Klein) N.P.Taylor
  • Thelocactus tulensis subsp. matudae (Sanchez-Mejorada & A.B.Lau) N.P.Taylor
Mexico(Nuevo León, San Luis Potosí, Tamaulipas )

Formerly placed here

Turbinicarpus beguinii (N.P.Taylor) Mosco & Zanov. (as T. beguinii N.P.Taylor)
Turbinicarpus gielsdorfianus (Werderm.) V.John & Ríha (as T. gielsdorfianus (Werderm.) Borg)
Turbinicarpus horripilus (Lem.) V.John & Ríha (as T. horripilus (Lem.) Kladiwa)
Turbinicarpus knuthianus (Boed.) V.John & Ríha (as T. knuthianus (Boed.) Borg)
Turbinicarpus lophophoroides (Werderm.) Buxb. & Backeb. (as T. lophophoroides Werderm.)
Turbinicarpus mandragora (Fric ex A.Berger) A.D.Zimm. (as T. mandragora A.Berger)
Turbinicarpus pseudopectinatus (Backeb.) Glass & R.A.Foster (as T. pseudopectinatus (Backeb.) E.F.Anderson & Boke)
Turbinicarpus saueri (Boed.) V.John & Ríha (as T. saueri (Boed.) Borg)
Turbinicarpus subterraneus (Backeb.) A.D.Zimm. (as T. subterraneus (Backeb.) Backeb. & F.M.Knuth)
Turbinicarpus viereckii (Werderm.) V.John & Ríha (as T. viereckii (Werderm.) Bravo)
Turbinicarpus ysabelae (Schlange) V.John & Ríha (as T. ysabelae Schlange)[3]


"Genus: Thelocactus (K. Schum.) Britton & Rose". Germplasm Resources Information Network. United States Department of Agriculture. 2004-02-13. Retrieved 2010-11-10.
"RHS Plant Selector - Theolcactus bicolor". Retrieved 6 June 2013.

"GRIN Species Records of Thelocactus". Germplasm Resources Information Network. United States Department of Agriculture. Retrieved 2010-11-10.

This article has been expanded using, inter alia, material based on a translation of an article from the Swedish Wikipedia, by the same name. It has also been augmented by material translated from the Italian Wikipedia.


Edward F. Anderson: A revision of the genus Thelocactus B. & R. (Cactaceae). In: Bradleya. Band 5, 1987, S. 49–76.
Grzegorz F. Matuszewski, Stanisław Hinz: Thelocactus. Systematik, Vorkommen und Kultur. 2011, ISBN 978-83-932646-0-5.
Alessandro Mosco, Carlo Zanovello: A phenetic analysis of the genus Thelocactus. In: Bradleya, Band 18, 2000, S. 45–70, PDF.
Alessandro Mosco, Carlo Zanovello: An introduction to the genus Thelocactus. In: Cactus & Co. Band 6, Nummer 3, 2002, S. 144–171, PDF.

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