Etymology -The generic name "Epithelantha" derives from the Greek word Epi meaning "upon, on, at, over"; the Greek word thele meaning "nipple" referring to the tubercles, and anthos meaning "flower". Thus the genus name implies: "flowers upon the tubercles".
Epithelantha is a genus of just two species of small plants. There exists a good deal of variation in spination and consequently more species have been described, most have settled on just the two and described the variations as subspecies. For the most part, this seems to satisfy the taxonomist and hobbyist alike. The plants of both are quite small with stems barely exceeding 2 inches (5cm) in diameter and less-so in height. Whether long or short, the spines are white and grow out of tubercles much like Mammillaria. However, the flowers rise from new growth out of the spine-producing areoles at the end of the tubercle. This feature clearly differentiates Epithelantha from Mammillaria. The flowers themselves are small, light pink or white funnels that appear very delicate. While these small flowers may go almost unnoticed, the fruit of Epithelantha are quite dramatic. These fruits are long tubes that stick up like birthday candles and their bright red color stands in high contrast to the white spines.
Both in the wild and in cultivation, E. micromeris is far more common than E. bokei. E. micromeris exists throughout the range of the genus, that is over much of the Chihuahuan Desert, but E. bokei only occurs in small area near the Big Bend US/Mexico border in Texas and Coahuila de Zaragoza.