Living Rocks of Mexico
The Cactaceae
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This extract is the unabridged text referring to the genus Ariocarpus from The Cactaceae,second edition) 1937, the illustrations have been omitted due to the poor quality, and small size of photographs in the publication


ARIOCARPUS Scheidweiler, Bull. Acad. Sc Brux. 5: 491. 1838.

Anhalonium Lemaire, Cact. Gen. Nov. Sp. 1 1839 

Plants spineless, (sometimes in Ariocarpus retusus small spines are produced in the areoles near the tip of the tubercles), usually simple, low, with a flat or round top; tubercles tough, horny, or cartilaginous, triangular, imbricated, spirally arranged, the lower part tapering into a claw, the upper or blade-like part expanded, areoles terminal or at the bottom of a triangular groove near the middle of tubercle, filled with hair when young, flowers appearing from near the center on young tubercles, diurnal, rotate-campanulate, white to purple, fruit oblong, smooth; seeds black, tuberculately roughened, with a large basal hilum; embryo described as obovate, straight.

Type species: Ariocarpus retusus Scheidweiler.

This genus long passed under the name of Anhaloniurn, but it was found that Ariocarpus had priority and hence was taken up. Karwinsky proposed the name Stromatocactus for one of the species, but no description of it was ever published. The genus is usually considered as most closely related to Mammillaria, under which genus two of the species have been placed. Engelmann, who was greatly puzzled over the group, first considered it the same as Mammillaria, then as a subgenus of Mammillaria, and later as a distinct genus.

In its small, oblong, naked fruit and straight embryo, it suggests a Mammillaria, but in its tubercles, areoles, seeds, and absence of spines, it is very unlike any of the species of that genus.

The generic name is from the genus Aria and from the Greek, meaning fruit, referring to the Aria-like fruit. We recognize three species, natives of southern Texas and northern Mexico.

Key to Species

Tubercles not grooved on upper side    


A. retusus  

Tubercles grooved on upper side  




Plants small, 3 to 5 cm broad   

A. kotschoubeyanus


Plants large, 10 to 15 cm broad  

A. fissuratus  

Ariocarpus retususScheidweiler, Bull. Acad Sci. Brux 5: 492. 1838.

  • Anhalonium prismaticum Lemaire, Cact. Gen. Nov. Sp. 1. 1839.

  • Anhalonium retusum SaIm-Dyck, Cact. Hort. Dyck. 1844. 15. 1845.

  • Anhalonium elongatum SaIm-Dyck, Cact. Hort. Dyck. 1849. 77. 1850.

  • Anhalonium areolosum Lemaire, Illustr. Hort. 6. Misc. 35. 1859.

  • Anhalonium pulvilligerum Lemaire, lllustr. Hort. 16. Misc. 72. 1869.  
    (Lemaire gives for this species a reference (Herb. Génér. Amat. Nouvel. Sér. Misc. 45.) which we have not been able to locate. Coulter (Coner. U S. Nat Herb 3 130. 1894) refers this name to Lemaire "Cact. 1839," the Index Kewensis to "Hort Monv. 1: 275," and Labouret to "Hort. Univ 1: 275, figure," but we have not been able to confirm them, if this name were published in 1839, it would transfer the publication of Anhalonium elongatum SaIm-Dyck back to 1845 (Cact. Hort. Dyck.1844. 15))

  • Mammillaria areolosa Hemsley, Biol. Centr. Amer. Bot : 503. 1880.

  • Mammillaria elongata Hemsley, Biol. Centr Amer Bot 1 509 1880 Not Dc Candolle, 1828

  • Mammillaria prismatica Hemsley, Biol Centr. Amer Bot 1' 519. 1880

  • Mammillaria furfuracea S Watson, Proc. Amer Acad 25. 150 1890  
    (Reported in the Index Kewensis (Suppl. 1 263. 1906) as Mammillaria purpuracea)

  • Cactus prismaticus Kuntze, Rev Gen P1. 1. 261. 1891

  • Anhalonium trigonum Weber, Dict. fort. Bois 90 1893

  • Anhalonium furfuraceum Coulter, Contr U. S. Nat Herb 3. 130. 1894

  • Ariocarpus pulvilligerus Schumann, Bot. Jahrb. Engler 24: 550 1898

  • Ariocarpus furfuraceus Thompson, Rep. Mo. Bot Gard 9; 130. 1898.

  • Ariocarpus trigonus Schumann, Gesamtb Kakteen 606 1898.

  • Ariocarpus prismaticus Cobbold, Journ. Hort. Home Farm. III. 46: 332 1903

Plants globular or more or less depressed, usually 10 to 12 cm. broad, grayish green to purplish, very woolly at the center, tubercles horny, imbricated, 5 cm. long or less, ovate, more or less 3-angled, acute to acuminate, often with a woolly areole on the upper side near the tip\ and this sometimes spinescent; flowers borne at the axils of young tubercles near the center, white or nearly so, up to 6 cm. long; outer perianth segments pinkish, narrow, acute to acuminate; inner perianth-segments at first white, afterwards pinkish, narrowly oblanceolate, with a mucronate tip; stamens numerous, erect; style white; stigma-lobes 9, linear, white; fruit oblong, white, naked; seeds globular, 1.5 mm. in diameter, black, tuberculate-roughened.

Type locality: San Luis Potosi, Mexico.

Distribution. States of Coahuila, Zacatecas, and San Luis Potosi, Mexico.

This species, as here described, is extremely variable in the shape, size, color, and markings of the tubercles, and in the presence or absence of woolly areoles near the tips of the tubercles. Several species have been described from these various forms, but there seems to be no good ground for such a course. The plant is called chaute by the Mexicans.

The plant usually grows in the open in rocky places where it is nearly covered with broken stones and only its long tubercles are visible.

Mammillaria retusa Mittler (Handb. Liebh. 11) is referred here by Schumann, but we have not seen this reference.

Mammillaria aloides Monville (Cat. 1846) is referred by Labouret as a synonym of Anhaloniurn prismaticurn, by Schumann as a synonym of Ariocarpus retusus, and by the Index Kewensis as a synonym of Mammillaria prismatica. Anhaloniurn aloides pulvilligerum Monville we know only from Lemaire (Illustr. Hort. 16: Misc. 72. 1869) who gives it as a synonym of A. pulvilligerum. Mammillaria pulvilligera Monville (Förster, Handb. Cact. ed. 2. 231. 1885) is given by Rümpler as a synonym of Anhalonium elongatum. Mammillaria aloidaea pulviligera which appeared in Monville's Catalogue of 1846 is referred by Labouret to Anhalonium elongatum. To Mammillaria trigona is referred Ariocarpus trigonus by the Index Kewensis (Suppl. 2. 16. 1904).

Illustrations: Möllers Deutsche Gärt. Zeit. 29: 76. f. 5, 6; 77. f. 7, 8, as Ariocarpus trigonus, Gartenwelt 15: 538, as Anhalonium trigonum; Gartenwelt 15: 538; Cact. Journ. 2: 109; Hort. Univ. 1: pl. 30; BaIt. Cact. Journ. 2: 266. f. 1: Herb. Génér. Amat. II. 2: pl. 16; Arch. Exper. Path. 34: pl. 1, f. 2; Journ. Amer. Chem. Soc. 18: f. 5; Palmer, Cult. Cact.123; Garten-Zeitung 4: 541. f. 126; 182. f. 42, No. 16, as Anhalonium prismaticum; Curtis's Bot. Mag. 119: p1. 7279, as Mammillaria prismatica; Cact. Journ. 1: pl. for November; Rep.Mo. Bot. Gard. 9: pl. 34; Ann. Rep. Smiths. Inst. 1908: pl. 15, f. 2, as Ariocarpus furfuraceus; Möllers Deutsche Gärt. Zeit. 25: 477. f. 11, No. 7; Blühende Kakteen 1: p1. 48; Ann. Rep.Smiths. Inst. 1908: p1. 15, f. 1; Bull. Acad. Sci. Brux. 5: p1. 1; Rep. Mo. Bot. Gard. 9: p1. 35; Cact. Journ. 1: p1. for September and November; Schelle, Handb. Kakteenk. f. 199; Hort. Beige 5: pl. 21, 22.

Ariocarpus kotschoubeyanus (Lemaire) Schumann in Engler and Pranti, Pflanzenfam. Nachtr. 259. 1897.

  • Anhaloniurn kotschoubeyanum Lemaire, Bull Cercie Confer Hort Dép Seine. 1842.

  • Anhalonium sulcaturn SaIm-Dyck, Cact Hort. Dyck 1849 5 1850

  • Cactus kotschubeyi Kuntze, Rev. Gen P1 1. 260 1891 (Sometimes spelled kotschubei)

  • Ariocarpus sulcatus Schumann, Monatsschr. Kakteenk 7. 9 1897

Plants grayish green, 3 to 5 cm broad, only the flat crown appearing above the surface of the ground, with a thickened, fleshy rootstock, and with several spindle-shaped roots from the base; upper part of tubercle flattened, triangular, 6 to 8 mm. long, grooved along its middle, almost to the tip, the groove very woolly, flowers 2.5 to 3 cm. long, originating in the center of the plant from the axils of the young tubercles, surrounded by a cluster of hairs; outer perianth-segments few, brownish, obtuse; inner perianth-segments up to 2 cm. long, oblanceolate, obtuse or apiculate, sometimes retuse, rose-colored to light purple, widely spreading; filaments, style, and stigma-lobes white, ovary naked, seeds oblong, 1 mm long.

Type locality: Mexico.

Distribution: Central Mexico.

This species was collected in Mexico and sent to Europe by Karwinsky about 1840. Only three specimens were sent in the first shipment, one of which sold for $200. As a medium sized plant weighs less than half an ounce, this price was somewhat in excess of its weight in gold! This plant was named for Prince Kotschoubey who was a prominent patron of horticulture. He paid thousand francs for one of these plants

  We have not seen Lemaire's original reference to Anhalonium kotschoubeyanurn, but in all his subsequent references the name is spelled as given here. Schumann however, spells the name as follows: Ariocarpus. kotschubeyanus.

Stromatocactus kotschoubeyi Karwinsky and Anhalonium fissipedum Monville were given by Lemaire (Illusti Hort. 16: Misc. 72. 1869) as synonyms of A. kotschoubeyanurn and by Rümpler (Förster, Handb. Cact. ed. 2. 232 1885) as synonyms of A. sulcatum. Ariocarpus rncdowelli (Haage and Schmidt, Cat. 225. 1908), unpublished, belongs here. Dr. Rose obtained living specimens from McDowell in 1906.

Cactus kotschoubeyi Karwinsky (Hort. Univ. 6: 63.1845) was recorded by Lemaire while the Index Kewensis refers the name to Otto Kuntze (Rev. Gen. P1. 1: 206. 1891), where the transfer is technically made.

The plant, as Mammillaria sulcata, is described in the Gardeners' Chronicle (III. 30: 255. 1901) but no author is given and the article is unsigned. The name also occurs in the Index Kewensis (3: 160. 1894), credited to Salm-Dyck (Cact. Hort. Dyck. 1849. 78. 1850), but he never used this combination. The reference of SaIm-Dyck which is cited is to Anhalonium sulcaturn.

Illustrations: Gartenwelt 15: 538, as Anhaloniurn kotschubeyanum,' Gard. Chron. III. 30: 255. f. 74, as Mamrnillaria sulcata; Monatsschr. Kakteenk. 7: 10; Cact. Journ. 1: 44, as Ariocarpus sulcatus,' Bot. Jahrb. Engler 24: 544; Cact. Journ. 1: pl. for January and September; Schumann, Gesamtb. Kakteen f. 96; Ann. Rep. Smiths. Inst. 1908: p1. 3, f. 4; Journ. Hered. Washington 6~: f. 5; Monatsschr. Kakteenk. 10: 184; Rep. Mo. Bot. Gard. 9: pl. 33; Blühende Kakteen 1: pl. 52 a; Möllers Deutsche Gärt. Zeit. 25: 477. f. 11, No 8; 29: 75. f. 4; Gartenwelt 15: 217.

Ariocarpus fissuratus (Engelmann) Schumann in Engler and Prantl, Pflanzenfam. 36a: 195.1894.

  • Mammillaria fissurata Engelmann, Proc. Amer Acad. 3: 270 1856.

  • Anhalonium fissuratum Engelmann, Cact Mex Bound 75 1859

  • Anhalonium engelmannii:: Lemaire, Cactées, 42. 1868

  • Ariocarpus lloydii:: Rose, Contr. U S. Nat. Herb 13 308. 1911.

Plant body scarcely appearing above the ground, flat or somewhat rounded, sometimes 15 cm. broad; tubercles imbricated, ovate, the upper part 2 to 3 cm. broad at base, acute or obtuse, the whole surface more or less fissured and irregularly warty, areoles filled with a dense mass of hairs, flowers 3 to 4 cm. broad, white to purple; inner perianth-segments oblong-oblanceolate, style and stigma-lobes white; fruit oval, pale green, 10 mm. long; seeds black, tuberculate-roughened.

Type locality. Near the junction of the Pecos with the Rio Grande.

Distribution: Western Texas and northern Coahuila and Zacatecas, Mexico.

Engelmann refers here (Cact. Mex. Bound. 74) Mammillaria heterornorpha Scheer (Anhalonium heterornorphum Trelease in Engelmann's Botanical Works 537. 1887), basing his conclusions on a skeleton specimen so labeled in SaIm-Dyck's collection. The species described under that name by SaIm-Dyck (Cact. Hort. Dyck. 1849. 128. 1850) is certainly not of this genus.

This plant is generally known as living rock. It is dull gray to brown in color and grows on dry stony ground and, when not in flower, is easily mistaken for the rocks which surround it.

Illustrations: Cact. Mex. Bound. pl. 16; Dict. Gard. Nicholson 4: 563. f. 34, as Mammillaria fissurata; Illustr. Hort. 16: pl. {605a); Förster, Handb. Cact. ed. 2. f. 20, as Anhalonium engelmannii; Cact. Journ. 2: 109; Gartenwelt 15: 538; Amer. Gard. 11: 465; Dict. Gard. Nicholson Suppl. 51. f. 48; Journ. Amer. Chem. Soc. 18: f. 4; Arch. Exper. Path. 34: 70. f. 1; 376; Goebel, Pflanz. Schild. 1: f. 14, 44; pl. 2, f. 7, as Anhalonium fissuratum; Contr. U. S. Nat. Herb. 13: pl. 63; Stand. Cycl. Hort. Bailey 1: f. 373; Möllers Deutsche Gärt. Zeit. 29: 73. f. 1, as Ariocarpus lloydii; Contr. U. S. Nat. Herb. 13: pI. 62; Rep. Mo. Bot. Gard. 9: pl. 32; Blühende Kakteen 1: pl. 52, b; Bull. Univ. Texas 82: pl. 4, f. 1; Engler and Pranti, Pflanzenfam. 36a: f. 68; Cact. Journ. 1: pl. for January and September; Ann. Rep. Smiths. Inst. 1908: pl. 5, f. 1: Schelle, Handb. Kakteenk. f. 200; Möllers Deutsche Gärt. Zeit. 25: 477. f. 11, No.6; 29: 74.f. 2, 3; Gartenwelt 15: 343; Alianza Cientifica Univarsal 3: opp. 150 (2 plates); Arch. Exper. Path. 34: 376; West Amer. Sci. 13: 2; Floralia 42: 369

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