Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia
- n. A genus of plants of the natural order Cactaceæ, the cactus family, and the tribe Echinocacteæ. The stem is flat at the base, and is crowned by a narrower, cylindrical flower-bearing head, which is covered with woolly hairs. There are about 30 species, which are found in the West Indies, Mexico, Brazil, and Colombia. The species in general are called
melon-cactusor melon-thistle. The best-known is M. communis, the turk's-cap or pope's-head. It has a height of a foot or a foot and a half. It grows profusely over barren tracts in parts of the West Indies and South America, and is common in cultivation.
- n. genus of strongly ribbed globose or spheroid cacti of tropical South and Central America and the Caribbean
“And here he will see only the sterile treeless plain; or, if trees meet his eye, they will be such as but strengthen the impression of sterility -- some scrambling mezquite bushes, clumps of cactaceae, perhaps the spheroidal form of a melocactus, or yucca, with its tufts of rigid leaves -- the latter resembling bunches of bayonets rising above the musket "stacks" on a military parade ground.”
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