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Family: Cactaceae (cacti)

Life > eukaryotes > Archaeoplastida > Chloroplastida > Charophyta > Streptophytina > Plantae (land plants) > Tracheophyta (vascular plants) > Euphyllophyta > Lignophyta (woody plants) > Spermatophyta (seed plants) > Angiospermae (flowering plants) > Core Eudicots > Order: Caryophyllales 

About 111 genera and 1500 species (mainly arid tropical America but also Old World), with one species (Rhipsalis baccifera) native to southern Africa, a further 10 genera and 23 species that are naturalised, and a further 29 genera and 131 species that are cultivated in the region. Some of the naturalised species are serious plant invaders. 

Genera native to southern Africa

Information from Glen (2000).

Rhipsalis

About 36 species, native mainly to America but also to Africa, Asia. Rhipsalis baccifera has a wide distribution that includes southern Africa (KwaZulu-Natal and Eastern Cape).  Four other species, originating from South America, are cultivated in the region.

 

Genera naturalised in southern Africa

Information from Glen (2000).

Austrocylindropuntia

About 12 species, native to the Andes in South America (Argentina, Ecuador, Bolivia and Peru). One species is naturalised in southern Africa and a further four species are cultivated in the region.

 

Cereus

About 40 species, native to the Caribbean and South America. Cereus jamacaru (Queen of the night), is naturalised in southern Africa where it is a declared Category 1 invader plant. It has been brought under control by two biological control agents, a mealiebug and a beetle.

 

Cylindropuntia

About 42 species, with three species naturalised in southern Africa and another three that are cultivated in the region.

 

Echinopsis

About 130 species, native to South America, with one species naturalised in southern Africa and a further 13 species that are cultivated in the region. 

 

Harrisia

About 20 species, native to the Caribbean and South America. Harrisia bonplandii and Harrisia martinii (Moon cactus) have become naturalised in southern Africa.  

 

Hylocereus

About 18 species, native to tropical America, one of which, Hylocereus undatus (Night-blooming cereus), has become an invasive species in KwaZulu-Natal and the Eastern Cape.  

 

Myrtillocactus

One species naturalised in southern Africa - Myrtillocactus geometrizans.

 

Opuntia

About 187 species (North and South America), with 11 species naturalised in southern Africa, and a further 10 species that are cultivated in the region.

 

Pereskia

Twenty species, native to Central and South America; one species is naturalised in southern Africa and a further four species are cultivated in the region.

 

Tephrocactus articulatus (Paper spine cactus)

[= Opuntia strobiliformis]

Native to Argentina and naturalised in southern Africa.

 

Other genera, cultivated in southern Africa

Information from Glen (2002).

Acanthocalycium klimpelianum

[= Echinopsis klimpeliana]

Native to Argentina.

 

Acanthocereus tetragonus (Barbed wire cereus)

[= Acanthocereus pentagonus]

Native from the USA through to Venezuela.

 

Ariocarpus

About five species, native to Mexico with one species also extending into Texas. Four species have been recorded as being cultivated in southern Africa.

 

Astrophytum

Four species, native to the southern USA and Mexico, all of which have been recorded as being cultivated in southern Africa.

 

Aztekium ritteri

Native to Mexico.

 

Cephalocereus senilis (Old man cactus)

Native to Mexico.

 

Cleistocactus

Three species cultivated: Cleistocactus samaipatanus (native to Bolivia), Cleistocactus sepium (native to Ecuador), and Cleistocactus winteri (Golden rat tail) (native to Bolivia).

 

Disocactus

Three species cultivated, all native to Mexico.

 

Echinocereus

Two cultivated species: Echinocereus scheerii (native to Mexico) and Echinocereus viridiflorus (native to central USA).

 

Epiphyllum

Two cultivated species: Epiphyllum oxypetalum (native to Mexico and Guatemala) and Epiphyllum thomasianum (native to Costa Rica).

 

Epithelantha micromeris (Button cactus)

Native to SW USA and Mexico.

 

Eulychnia acida (Copao, Acido)

Native to Chile.

 

Ferocactus histrix (Electrode cactus)

Native to Mexico.

 

Grusonia

About 17 species, native to the southwestern USA and northwestern Mexico. Two species are cultivated in southern Africa.

 

Gymnocalycium

About 72 species, native to South America. Seventeen species have been recorded as being cultivated in southern Africa.

 

Hatiora

Two cultivated species: Hatiora gaertneri and Hatiora rosea (both native to Brazil).

 

Lepismium houlletianum

Native to Brazil.

 

Leuchtenbergia principis (Agave cactus)

Native to Mexico.

 

Lophophora williamsii (Mescal, Peyote)

Native to Texas and Mexico.

 

Maihueniopsis clavarioides

[= Opuntia clavarioides]

Native to Argentina.

 

Mammillaria

Species total about 197 and are native from the southwestern USA through to Colombia and Venezuela as well as the Caribbean, with the highest species diversity in Mexico. Twenty-four species have been recorded as being cultivated in southern Africa.

 

Melocactus

Thirty-six species, native to Mexico, Central America, northern South America and the West Indies. Seven species have been recorded as being cultivated in southern Africa.

 

Nopalea cochenillifera

[= Opuntia cochenillifera]

Native to Mexico.

 

Peniocereus serpentinus

Native to Mexico.

 

Pterocactus

Two species cultivated species: Pterocactus fischeri (native to SW USA and Mexico) and Pterocactus tuberosus (native to Argentina).

 

Rebutia

Native to Bolivia and Argentina. Four species are cultivated in southern Africa

 

Schlumbergera x buckleyi (Christmas cactus)

 

Selenicereus

Two species cultivated: Selenicereus grandiflorus (Night-flowering cactus, Queen of the night) (native to tropical America) and Selenicereus macdonaldiae (native to Honduras, South America)

 

Stenocactus zacatecasensis

Native to Mexico.

 

Publications

  • Glen, H.F. 2002. Cultivated plants of southern Africa. Jacana, Johannesburg.

  • Glen, H.F. 2000. Cactaceae. In: Seed Plants of Southern Africa (ed. O.A. Leistner). Strelitzia 10: 197-199. National Botanical Institute, Pretoria.

 

 


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