Resources for Further Study
This page contains a list of references for learning more about the cactus family. If you are looking for sources to buy cactus plants, you
can find CactiGuide.com approved suppliers through the NurseryLink application. Click here
to learn more.
For book purchases, visit:
New Cactus Lexicon
The New Cactus Lexicon is actually two separate books that are sold as one.
The two book set attempts to describe and illustrate every known cactus species and subspecies.
One of the books contains the descriptions and is organized alphabetically by genus. Also there are two
separate indexes of synonyms provided. One is an alphabetical list of the current accepted name
and the synonyms beneath it. The other lists all synonyms alphabetical by genus and includes the current
accepted name next to it. Both of these are useful even if many hard-core enthusiasts do not accept
the classification scheme of the International Cactaceae Systematics Group which the Lexicon follows.
This book also employs a very large number of abbreviations in the descriptions which can take some
getting used to and makes reading descriptions a bit cumbersome.
The second part of this two book set is the picture "atlas" containing over 2500 images. To my knowledge
this is the most complete picture collection of the cactus family in one place. The goal of the authors
was to include images of every species of cactus and many of the subspecies. This extremely helpful
resource is not organized alphabetically like the text, but is grouped by similar characteristics. This
intentional layout was intended to make comparison of like genera easier while an index in the back makes
looking up the images by name a simple task.
The New Cactus Lexicon can serve the amature as well as the more advanced, however, the higher
cost of such a large work may deter the casual cactus enthusiast. In any case, this publication
attempts to describe the entire cactus family which makes it a useful general reference or a cross-reference
to be used with more specialized works.
Edward F. Anderson
The Cactus Family is an excellent resource for
those looking for a treatment of the entire Cactus Family.
This 776 page hardcover is packed with information
on each individual species of known cacti in an easy-to-use,
encyclopedia-like format. Additional full-length comprehensive
-Distinctive features of Cacti
-Ethnobotany of Cacti
-Conservation of Cacti
-Cultivation of Cacti
-Classification of Cacti
Also in this book is an Index of Scientific Names that is
helpful for looking up the many synonyms of species that have been
reclassified. An Index of Common
Names, an Appendix with Maps of various regions where cacti
grow, and an Appendix of Botanic Gardens and Herbaria with
Significant Collections of Cacti further the usefulness of
this fantastic book.
The Cactus Family is now out of print, but used and new copies are still
out there at reasonable prices.
|Cacti of the Desert Southwest
|Also published in 2001, Meg Quinn
must have finished this book shortly after The Cactus Family
was released, since she based the scientific names in her book
Cacti of the Desert Southwest on those listed in The
Cactus Family. The nomenclature used in this book is therefore
up-to-date. I found this wonderfully well-organized book specific
to cacti of the southwest very practical as a field guide while
traveling through the deserts of the southwest. Large, full-color
photography coupled with specific information on the distribution/range
of each species makes identification a snap. Quinn's book is
an 88 page soft-cover that I would recommend to anyone who is
planning a visit to the Desert Southwest.
|Cacti of the Southwest
W. Hubert Earle
|This book is a little older; published
originally in 1963 and later updated in 1980, it specifically
covers cacti of the Southwest. I found the most helpful feature
of this book to be individual photos printed for each variety
within a specific species. Given the extremely variable
growth characteristics of Cacti, having these photos -although
black and white- makes identification of variations much easier.
A separate section of color photos was added when the book was
updated in 1980. The color photos primarily represent the flower
close-up for each species. Despite being over 20 years old,
this book can be as useful as any modern book when used in conjunction
with the Index to Scientific Names in The Cactus Family.
|70 Common Cacti
Pierre C. Fischer
|At approximately 8 bucks, 70 Common
Cacti is well worth the money. Published in 1989, it is
the cacti-specific book in a series of books produced by Southwest
Parks and Monuments Association. The pages aren't numbered and
I didn't bother counting, but it is approximately 80 pages.
There are lots of photos that are vary useful for identification
purposes. Distribution/Range information also proves helpful
along with non-technical descriptions that even beginners can
|Cacti, The Illustrated Dictionary
Rod & Ken Preston-Mafham
|Have an unknown cacti potted on your
window sill? If so, you'll probably be able to identify it using
Cacti, The Illustrated Dictionary. This book is specific
to the identification of the globular cacti that are commonly
collected by enthusiasts with potted collections. Hundreds of
photos help simplify the identification of such genera as Echinocereus,
Mammillaria, Parodia, and many more. This book was first
published in 1991 and later revised in 1994. Out of 224 pages,
over 200 of them feature color photos of each the species as
well as photos of varieties. A short descriptions accompany the
photos and I recommend this book as a companion other works that feature
full descriptions, but are lacking on images.
A.J.S. McMillan & J.F. Horobin
|This book includes info on true Christmas Cacti,
of course, but its subtitle better describes the contents; The genus Schlumbergera
and its hybrids. A 160 page soft-cover published in 1995, Christmas Cacti is packed
with 120 color photos. The majority of these images are flower close-ups which aid
in identification of the various hybrids, but there are also several helpful line-drawings
as well as a few habitat/historical pictures. The text includes a background on the
Christmas (or Holiday) Cacti and species descriptions, cultivation information, and
lists of varieties/hybrids. McMillan and Horobin's Christmas Cacti is a valuable
resource for those interested in these popular epiphytic cacti.
|Rhipsalis & Lepismium
While most cactus collectors rarely give Rhipsalis or
Lepismium a second thought, Supplie has put together a flattering 144 page treatment
of the two genera. This book is bilingual and each page is split into two colums with German
on the left and English on the right. He starts of with a history of discovery then
discusses general distribution of the two genera. Next, he includes a Q&A style interview
with a large Rhipsalis grower from the Netherlands, giving the reader a unique look into
another grower's experience. Next is a fair discussion on cultivation specific to these
epiphytic cacti followed by propagation infomation. Supplie then includes an exhaustive
section on "Diseases and Plagues" that should prepare the reader for pretty much
any problem that might come thier way. After all this information, Supplie then describes
the species in each genera, starting with Lepismium followed by Rhipsalis. He includes a
description and comments for each species. Illustrations are mostly grouped together seperately
from the text with some included elsewhere. All in all, this book is one of the few resources
available for those who want information on these often overlooked genera.
|Pilosocereus -The Genus in Brazil
Daniela C. Zappi
Daniela Zappi wrote her doctoral thesis on the Pilosocereus of Brazil and this book is a translation
of that work. The focus of the genus in Brazil doesn't detract from its value as a study of the
entire genus. Ample informatin is given covering the history of discovery and nomenclature of this
group of cacti, which was only starting to be understood at the time this book was written in 1988.
Daniela made many trips to the field, studied preserved materials, and living secimens of field-collected
plants. Being a thesis, this book contains a good deal of technical information, such as charts, graphs, and
microscopic photos of seeds, but it is also quite useful to the casual cactus grower who would like a
better understanding of the genus. Aside from information on the genus in general, detailed description are
given for the various species. Many line-art illustrations are included, mostly drawn by Zappi herself and a
section in the middle of the book contains color photos of the various species. Distribution maps are also
included. The book is 160 pages, published in 1994.
|The Ferocacti of Baja California
Franziska & Richard Wolf
|This bilingual book bears the German title of
Die Ferokakteen der Baja California on the cover along with the English
translation. Even if this book were not written in both languages, it would be
worth the purchase for its photographs alone. Every species of ferocactus that
grows on the Baja California peninsula and surrounding islands is meticulously
described along with information on nomenclature and habitat. There are over 340
beautiful color photos that illustrate entire plants at various ages and of various
types. This book goes to great length to show the forms, subspecies, and other subdivisions
of each species. These images in combination with flower close-ups and even seed
photos ensure proper identification. While habitat shots, those of neighboring vegetation,
and even local people and animals give the feeling of being there. Finally there are
distribution maps to show the wild range of both species and/or subspecies. (Hardcover/240 pages/Published 2004)
John Pilbeam & Derek Bowdery
Ferocactus is not part of "The Cactus File Handbook" series, but it very
well could be. That is the organization is consistent with that series making it
very user-friendly. Pilbeam again employs his organizational skills to make understanding
the genus Ferocactus as easy as such a thing can be. The book is 116 pages long and
is primarily devoted to the identifying description of every known species of the genus. There
are many large pictures throughout - mostly of habitat plants. For each species a distribution
map is given which is a great aid for those visiting the plants where they grow. At the front
of the book, before getting into species descriptions, 16 pages of other useful information
is provided. This includes an overview of the species, classification explanations with a
key to the species and even cultivation tips. For those looking for more detailed information
on Ferocactus than the more general cactus books provide, this 2005 BCSS publication is
an excellent resource.
|The second in a series of books called "The
Cactus File Handbook" which specializes in specific cacti genera and some other
succulents. As with all books in this series, Rebutia by Pilbeam is packed
with just about everything you could want to know about the genus it describes. The book
starts with an overview of the genera; history, geography, cultivation, and taxonomy.
Next are the species and subspecies listed alphabetically and superbly described. Each
species/subspecies is represented with at least one picture (every one in flower) as
well as range maps showing distribution in the wild, lengthy descriptions, and field
collection data. Following this section is an index of "superfluous or dubious names and hybrids".
Altogether this soft-cover book is 160 pages with 139 color photos and was published in 1997.
Note: It does not contain those species that have been classified as Sulcorebutia.
|This 80 page soft-cover 1998 publication by Graham Charles
is number 4 in "The Cactus File Handbook" series. Inside you will find the well
thought out layout typical of the other books in this series. That includes an
overall description of the genera with historical, distribution, and cultivation
information followed by the extensively described species and subspecies in alphabetical
order. As is typical of this series, there are many photos in both habitat and cultivation;
typically multiple shots for each specimen. There are 100 photos in all along with distribution
range maps for each species and variety.
|Due to the large number of species, Mammillaria plants are certainly
one of the most difficult of all cacti species to properly identify with the possible exception
of the other massive and poorly described genus - Opuntia. There is no question this number 6
book in "The Cactus File Handbook" series published in 1999 will make ID much easier. This particular
book differs from other books in the series being hardcover and larger; a total of 376 pages.
Pilbeam hits the genus head-on with full descriptions, distribution maps, and photos for each
species. There are 425 color photos in all; often more than one for each species and almost always
in flower. Despite the size of this work, Pilbeam's Mammillaria stays true to form
with an overview of the genus, an index of superfluous names/synonyms, and a list of field collection data.
This book is sure to hold a premium spot on the bookshelf of any Mammillaria enthusiast who owns a copy of it.
|Ariocarpus et cetera
John Pilbeam & Bill Weightman
With the help of Weightman, Pilbeam authors yet another fantastic cactus book. Unlike
Pilbeam's other single-genera books such as Mammillaria and Rebutia, the authors
of Ariocarpus Etc. have included a unique collection of species from several genera. As the
book's subtitle explains these are "The special, smaller genera of Mexican cacti". While
this might leave a beginner collector scatching thier head as to what this means; those more seasoned
will be able to fondly guess at which species are covered in this book. Seventeen genera are included
here, which, aside from Ariocarpus, also includes Astrophytum, Aztekium, Geohintonia, Obregonia,
Ortegocactus, Turbinicarpus and more. This book is beautifully illustrated and after a brief
introduction, wastes no time in describing the various species. True to Pilbeam's highly organized
style, the book logically follows a pattern for each species as follows: A general description
of the genus including history of discovery and nomenclature, then the history and nomenclature
for each species within followed by detailed plant descriptions, cultivation notes, and distribution
data. Again, the photography is superb and nearly every one of the 138 pages of this book is graced
with one or more large photos of impressive habitat plants sure to make any cactus collector
drool. This book was published in 2006 by the British Cactus and Succulent Society and
copies will not likely be available for long after that.
|The Genus Turbinicarpus
Milan Zachar decided to include the broad range of species within his coverage of the genus Turbinicarpus.
That includes those considered by many collectors as Gymnocactus and Rapicactus. Each species
is described in detail and includes many notes from Zachar's extensive time in the field. Aside from
several trips to the habitat, Zachar lived in Mexico for four years while he engaged in intense research
of these plants. Original descriptions in Latin are included and even climate graphs for various regions
where the species occur. Photos are plentiful of these plants in habitat. The Genus Turbinicarpus
is 144 pages and a useful addition for those wanting to better understand this taxonomically
controversial grouping of cacti.
R.F. Dicht & A.D. Luthy
This monograph on the genus Coryphantha by Dicht and Luthy is the first of its kind.
While the authors admit in the preface, that man's attempt to categorize living things
into neat little packages is limited by nature itself, their work will undoubtedly
remain the foundation for any future treatments of this plant group. Packed full of
technical information, this book is none-the-less very accessible to a novice reader. Sections
on the environment that cacti grow in, the morphology of the genus, and the history of
its discovery bring together in a very readable format over 300 articles and other descriptions
on the genus. In addition to weeding through the mountains of existing research, Dicht
and Luthy spent a fair amount of time in the field validating that material. Each species
is described in a consistent manner along with comments specific to each taxon. Multiple
photos of each species and some habitats are grouped together in the middle of the book
along with color distribution maps. Species descriptions are followed by a brief section
on cultivation. In total, this 2005 Springer publication is 200 pages and was translated
from the original German version published two years prior.
The Native Cacti of California
For those who wish to explore California and view its wild
cacti, this book makes the task much easier. Within the 243
pages you will find general cacti biology information, identification
and classification information as it relates specifically
to the native species of California. Also geographical and
climatic information regarding California's different vegetative
zones are included. Some of this information may be outdated
as the book was first published in 1969, but the majority
of information is still very useful to those interested in
the subject. This book is packed with line drawings, color
plates, and black and white photos useful for identification
as well as 18 maps showing the distribution/native location
of each species. The Native Cacti of California is
a wonderful resource for locating the widely spread out species
in the large state of California.
|Cacti of Texas
Gertrud & Ad Konings
The husband and wife team who authored this book have done something that few others can claim. They have seen all 136 species of native Texas cacti in their
natural habitat and almost all while in bloom and captured each in pictures. These pictures are used to lavishly illustrate this 11.5 x 11 inch book with full-page and
larger-than-life images of cacti in the wild. Images were selected to show the plants in their surroundings as well as stem and flower close-ups.
Species are listed alphabetically by scientific name and habitat descriptions are given for each. Maps are listed in the back showing the location of each photograph
in the book. It is hard to imagine a more useful book for the person who desires to find one of the Texas cacti in habitat. Aside from this practical value, the format
of the book makes it equally suitable as a "coffee table" book for leisurely flipping through and soaking in all the magnificent images.
The photographs alone warrant the purchase of this cacti
specific book. All but 7 out of 160 pages are graced with
one or more fantastic pictures of show-quality specimens,
which are great for identification or merely for viewing pleasure.
The focus of this 1998 book is on the care and propagation
of cacti with general information on potting, seeding, cutting,
and grafting as well as a per-species water-temperature-soil
requirement listing. Approximately 50 species are described
in an easy-to-follow format. Although many will find the selection
sufficient, I find the only drawback of this book is that
it doesn't cover more species.
|The Illustrated Guide to Cacti
|This book was given to me as a gift
and for a time it was my only book on cacti. This book has 224
pages and has illustrations rather than photographs. Published
in 1992, this book's features cacti that are popularly grown
by the amateur cacti enthusiast. The combination of the use
of illustrations and selective coverage prevents this from being
one of the better books for identifying various species. However,
this book contains a wealth of information on growing and caring
for cacti. Subjects covered include: Repotting, Watering, Seeding,
Grafting, and Disease and Pest Control. This makes it an excellent
book for those looking for help learning how to grow cacti successfully.
||Free PDF Downloadable Cactus and Succulent Journal
||The Cactus & Succulent Society of America -a must join organization for any serious Cacti/Succulent enthusiast
||Orange County Cactus & Succulent Society -my local Orange County, CA club (See the CSSA site above for a list of local clubs near you)
|Gene Schroeder's Images
||High-Quality photos of properly identified cacti in flower
|Website of D.S. Franges
||A Tucson Arizona gardener who shares his love for cacti with great photos and descriptions!
|Opuntia Specific Page
||This website tackles the extremely difficult task of sorting out Opuntia classification. Multiple contributors
lend to its accuracy.
||Cactus and Succulent website host and directory.
||Quarterly journal on Cactus and Succulents in English, Spanish, and French.
|Cactus & Co.
||Printed Journal in English and Italian and a very active web forum in Italian.
||Monograph on the genus Echinocereus in German and English.
|Those Captivating Cacti
When the producer Rick Smith sent me a DVD on cactus, I had no idea what to expect. After all, I had never
seen a DVD on just cactus before. This 21 minute video gives a rather general introduction to the Cactus Family
describing what makes a plant a cactus in the first half and then discusses basic cultivation tips in the second half.
Since cacti do not move, the overview is much like a slide-show while the narrator (a female) explains some of the
distinct features of cacti and comments on their natural distribution. Quite a variety of species are shown - most in cultivation.
All very nice plants. I was hoping for more habitat footage in this DVD, but that probably has more to do with my high exposure
to plants in cultivation - in both my own collection as well as in pictures. This DVD is geared towards beginners, and as
I believe was intended it does do a good job of giving the viewer a 'feel' for the diversity of this unique plant family.
Likewise, the verbiage gives a beginner-level overview defining the cactus family. While this makes for a good start, I would
like to have seen some discussion in the DVD explaining what a cactus is NOT. I admit this is counter-intuitive, but I could
not count the number of times I've been asked for information about someone's "cactus" that turns out not to be a cactus at all.
This mistake is so common that I think it is essential for beginners. On the other hand, I was very pleased to see the
attention given to the diversity plants - especially in recognizing the epiphytic cacti. Many times it seems there is a dichotomy
between epi cactus (aka jungle cactus) growers and desert cactus growers - almost as if they were separate families altogether.
The cultivation section of the DVD is where the video format really is ideal. For example, trying to describe the use of rolled up newspaper
to assist in repotting is hard to do in words -even with pictures, but is very apparent in a video. Cultivation topics covered are
potting, light & water, growing conditions, propagation, and pests/diseases. While the bulk of the cultivation advice is sound,
I would recommend that the viewer research further on these topics for best results. I think more emphasis should have
been given in two areas in particular: 1. The importance of the soil used and need for drainage. 2. The need for strong light. Mistakes
made in either of these two areas are the most common that I encounter with beginners.
The video wraps up with some suggested sources for more information. Along with suggesting books and web searches, there is
good mention of local cactus clubs. I was very happy to see this attention given to the local clubs as there is not a better
place for a beginner to advance in this hobby. For those without access to a local club, interactive web forums are the next best thing.
Unfortunately these are not mentioned in the video specifically.
Overall, I enjoyed watching this video. I hope that it will soon be followed by other cactus documentaries that cover the subject
in even more detail - such as a special on cactus conservation. While more experienced growers will not likely
learn anything new from this video, the novice will get enough information that will hopefully prompt them to give cactus growing a try.