Cover image for The cactus family
The cactus family
Anderson, Edward F., 1932-
Personal Author:
Publication Information:
Portland, Or. : Timber Press, 2001.
Physical Description:
776 pages : illustrations (some color), maps ; 29 cm
Format :


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QK495.C11 A53 2001 Adult Non-Fiction Non-Fiction Area-Oversize

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Only now, at the beginning of the new millennium, is there an up-to-date, comprehensive study of the cactus family. This long-awaited, monumental work covers the Cactaceae in an encyclopedic manner, addressing 125 genera and 1810 species. The most comprehensive single resource on the subject available today, it includes more than 1000 color photographs in addition to other illustrations. The introduction to each genus concentrates on the discovery of the cacti, and the improvements in our understanding of them, many of which result from relatively recent investigation. As stated in the foreword, "Cacti have a special fascination all their own. Miniature spiny dwarf cacti less than an inch in diameter are hidden in the arid regions of North and South America; the majestic columns of the giant saguaro, Carnegiea gigantea, dominate the deserts of Arizona. Yet all these cacti, given time, offer the surprising paradox of brilliant flowers, their delicacy a striking contrast to the strong spines that keep the viewer at a respectful distance." This remarkable diversity is fully described and illustrated in this authoritative encyclopedia, which is both scientifically accurate and readable. It also includes a chapter by Roger Brown on the cultivation of cacti, making the book even more useful to growers and hobbyists, as well as to taxonomists, ethnobotanists, and conservationists -- indeed, anyone interested in succulent plants.

Reviews 2

Booklist Review

The strange spiny spectacle of cactus plants comes under close and expert scrutiny in this study of great breadth and fascinating detail. Amateur growers and scholars alike will be able to delve into Anderson's treatise and come away with increased understanding of the nearly two thousand species comprising an extraordinary family of New World succulents. On a practical level, Anderson is an eminently inviting writer who delivers intriguing descriptions of the characteristics that set these plants apart. He also presents brief but brilliant surveys of ethnobotany and conservation issues. While more than 1,000 photographs overall illustrate the extraordinary diversity and beautiful flowers of cacti, the main section--an alphabetically arranged reference--will arguably rank as the definitive work readers will use to examine and identify cactus genera, species, and subspecies. --Alice Joyce

Choice Review

The late Anderson's The Cactus Family provides a well-illustrated, descriptive guide to the biological, morphological, and geographical diversity in this appealing family of plants. Botanists and hobbyists who grow, study, and cultivate cacti will find Anderson's book a welcome necessity. More than 1,800 species in 125 genera are succinctly and technically described. In their briefest form these descriptions detail the morphological features; at their fullest they provide notes on economic uses and taxonomic comments. The introductory chapter provides an overview of the characters of the family; illustrations in this chapter are particularly useful in helping to understanding the specialized terminology. Other chapters elucidate human uses of cacti, their cultivation, and the issues involved in their conservation. More than 1,000 clear and crisp color photographs of species and habitats make this a practical as well as beautiful guide. This book is a monumental accomplishment and a worthy successor to The Cactaceae: Descriptions and Illustrations of Plants of the Cactus Family (4v.), by N.L. Britton and J.N. Rose (1919). General readers; graduate students; researchers; faculty; professionals. D. H. Pfister Harvard University



The saguaro, Carnegia gigantea, is one of the most spectacular cacti of the Sonoran Desert of northwestern Mexico and the southwestern United States, and its significance to Native Americans has long been and continues to be of great importance. Extensive studies of this cactus and the people who have used it have been done by Bruhn (1971), Crosswhite (1980), Felger and Moser (1985), and Moerman (1998). There is evidence that the ancient Hohokam and Sinagua, contemporaries of the Anasazi, ate saguaro fruits but also used the ribs from dead stems as roof beams for their stone-walled structures (Cheetham 1994, 18). The Hoholam also created works of art, etching designs on shells, by using saguaro wine that had turned to vinegar (Crosswhite 1980, 53-54).Legends among other Native American tribes in the southwestern United States and northern Mexico, where the cactus occurs, indicate a long period of use. Three tribes in this region, who call themselves the O'odham, including the Akimel O'odham (northern River Pima), Tohono O'odham (Papago), and Hiach-eD O'odham (Sand Papago), have a long history with the saguaro cactus. Likewise, the Seri of northwestern Mexico also use the saguaro for a variety of purposes (Felger and Moser 1985, 247-248). Although the record is unclear with regard to the name of the large cactus first observed by Anglos, in 1540 the Spanish explorer Francisco Vasquez de Coronado and his party almost certainly saw the saguaro and groups of Native Americans who "drink the wine made of the pitahaya, which is the fruit of a great thistle which opens like the pomegranate" (Mitich 1972, 119). The term pitahaya was used by the Spanish for several columnar cacti and their fruits, and the name saguaro, also spelled suwarro, first appeared in a report by Colonel W. H. Emory in 1848 on the survey along the United States-Mexico border (Mitich 1972, 122).Today some of these Native Americans continue to participate in annual activities involving the saguaro, much as they have for generations. In fact, the traditional calendar of the Tohono O'odham is organized around the plant's annual cycle, beginning in late June and early July with the harvesting of fruits. This first month of their year is called Hahshani Mashad, the saguaro (harvest) month (Crosswhite 1980, 14). The saguaro is so important to them that the cacti (Nabhan 1982, 26-27) "are referred to as humans ... You don't do anythng to hurt them. They are Indians." The Tohono O'odham have been bound to this cactus because of their dependence on it for survival. The month in which saguaro fruits are harvested is usually a time of food shortage, so the abundant, fresh, sweet food is especially welcome. The annual harvest of fruits and the making of preserves and wine precede the growing of beans, maize, and squash. Other aspects of Tohono O'odham life parallel those of the saguaro. Their strategy for collecting water for irrigation by digging many shallow, diverging di Excerpted from The Cactus Family by Edward F. Anderson, Edward Anderson All rights reserved by the original copyright owners. Excerpts are provided for display purposes only and may not be reproduced, reprinted or distributed without the written permission of the publisher.

Table of Contents

Roger Brown
Foreword by Wilhelm Barthlottp. 9
Prefacep. 11
Acknowledgmentsp. 12
Chapter One Distinctive Features of Cactip. 15
The Family Cactaceaep. 18
Growth Formsp. 19
Stemsp. 24
Rootsp. 29
Flowersp. 30
Fruitsp. 34
Seedsp. 34
Dispersalp. 35
Chemistryp. 36
Physiologyp. 36
Origin of Cactip. 37
Distribution of Cactip. 39
Chapter Two Ethnobotany of Cactip. 43
Peyotep. 44
San Pedro Cactusp. 46
Saguarop. 49
Indian Fig Cactusp. 51
Cacti as Foodp. 55
Cacti as Medicinep. 60
Ceremonial and Religious Uses of Cactip. 62
Cacti as a Source of Dyesp. 64
Cacti in Horticulturep. 65
Cacti as Weedsp. 66
Other Uses of Cactip. 67
Chapter Three Conservation of Cactip. 73
In Situ Conservationp. 79
Ex Situ Conservationp. 80
Legal Protection of Cactip. 82
Chapter Four Cultivation of Cactip. 85
Lightp. 85
Containersp. 85
Potting Mediap. 86
Waterp. 88
Fertilizerp. 88
Air Circulation and Ventilationp. 89
Cleanlinessp. 89
Pestsp. 90
Propagationp. 92
Chapter Five Classification of Cactip. 93
Problems in Classifying Cactip. 93
History of Cactus Classificationp. 95
The Cactus Classification of the International Cactaceae Systematics Groupp. 99
The Cactip. 105
Acanthocalyciump. 105
Acanthocereusp. 106
Acharagmap. 108
Ariocarpusp. 109
Armatocereusp. 112
Arrojadoap. 117
Arthrocereusp. 118
Astrophytump. 120
Austrocactusp. 122
Austrocylindropuntiap. 123
Aztekiump. 127
Bergerocactusp. 129
Blossfeldiap. 129
Brachycereusp. 130
Brasilicereusp. 131
Brasiliopuntiap. 132
Browningiap. 133
Calymmanthiump. 137
Carnegieap. 137
Cephalocereusp. 138
Cephalocleistocactusp. 141
Cereusp. 142
Cintiap. 150
Cipocereusp. 151
Cleistocactusp. 152
Cochemieap. 165
Coleocephalocereusp. 167
Consoleap. 170
Copiapoap. 174
Corryocactusp. 182
Coryphanthap. 186
Cumulopuntiap. 198
Cylindropuntiap. 203
Dendrocereusp. 216
Denmozap. 217
Discocactusp. 218
Disocactusp. 221
Echinocactusp. 227
Echinocereusp. 230
Echinomastusp. 252
Echinopsisp. 255
Epiphyllump. 286
Epithelanthap. 291
Eriosycep. 292
Escobariap. 307
Escontriap. 314
Espostoap. 315
Espostoopsisp. 321
Eulychniap. 322
Facheiroap. 325
Ferocactusp. 326
Fraileap. 336
Geohintoniap. 342
Grusoniap. 342
Gymnocalyciump. 347
Haageocereusp. 364
Haagespostoap. 369
Harrisiap. 370
Hatiorap. 375
Hylocereusp. 377
Isolatocereusp. 382
Jasminocereusp. 383
Lasiocereusp. 384
Leocereusp. 385
Lepismiump. 386
Leptocereusp. 391
Leuchtenbergiap. 395
Lophophorap. 396
Maihueniap. 398
Maihueniopsisp. 399
Mammillariap. 403
Mammilloydiap. 450
Matucanap. 451
Melocactusp. 456
Micranthocereusp. 467
Milap. 470
Miqueliopuntiap. 470
Myrtgerocactusp. 471
Myrtil locactusp. 472
Neobuxbaumiap. 476
Neolloydiap. 479
Neoraimondiap. 481
Neowerdermanniap. 482
Obregoniap. 484
Opuntiap. 484
Oreocereusp. 526
Oroyap. 529
Ortegocactusp. 530
Pacherocactusp. 531
Pachycereusp. 531
Parodiap. 538
Pediocactusp. 557
Pelecyphorap. 560
Peniocereusp. 561
Pereskiap. 566
Pereskiopsisp. 5