This section is from the book "The Standard Cyclopedia Of Horticulture Vol2", by L. H. Bailey. See also: Western Garden Book: More than 8,000 Plants - The Right Plants for Your Climate - Tips from Western Garden Experts.
(shortened from Melocactus by Linnaeus). Caclaceae. A single small species, sometimes grown in under-glass collections and in open succulent gardens South.
Stems globose or ovoid, with vertical ribs, crowned at maturity with a "cephalium"-a prolongation of the axis densely covered with small tubercles imbedded in wool and bearing in their axils small flowers and berries. The plant has the appearance of an Echinocactus, but the flowers and berries resemble those of Mamillaria.
Melocactus, Linn. (Melocactus communis, Link & Otto). Fig. 731. Ribs 10-20, acute; areoles nearly 1 in. apart; radial spines 8-11, straight or curved, subulate; centrals 1-4; cephalium at first low, hemispherical, becoming cylindrical in time, reaching a height of 8 in.; the dense wool of the cephalium is pierced by many red or brown bristles: flowers red, slender: fruit 2/3in. long, crowned by the persistent remains of the flower, red. W. Indies; called there "Turk's head." B.M.3090. J.N.Rose.
Fig. 731. Cactus Melocactus. (X 1/5) a a. Stamens not much exceeding the petals, or shorter.
B. leaflets very obtuse.
c. Branches unarmed.
cc. Branches prickly. D. Pod smooth: shrubs.