A genus honouring Curt Backeberg (1894-1966), a prolific author of descriptions and expert in the Cactaceae family
(see portrait above, Arch. JL).
Monospecific genus of plants with columnar stems, up to 6 m tall (sometimes 9 m), first solitary, then branched,
consstricted when mature, with a typical cylindrical terminal cephalium consisting of wool and golden setose hairs
darkening with age. Areoles close to each other, spines short, aciculate. Branches fallen on the ground root and
produce new plants.
Flowers nocturnal, self sterile, emerging from the cephalium, yellow or greenish to pinkish, pollinated by bats. Fruits
elongated, although buried in the cephalium, fleshy, dry when ripe. Seeds shiny, black, few, scattered mainly by ants
The monotypic genus Backebergia grows endemically in Mexico, in semi arid zones, tropical deciduous open forests, from 100 m up to 600 m in altitude, on rocky soils of sedimentary origin. The rainfall is quite high (400 / 1200 mm annually), but, due to the high temperatures that persist almost throughout the year (28-30°C, max in summer of +46°C), evaporation is intense. It grows with other rare Cactaceae: Mammillaria beneckei, Ferocactus lindsayi, Pereskiopsis rotundifolia etc., as well as of many species of Burseraceae.
Mexico (Colima, Guerrero, Jalisco, Michoacán).
Currently one recognised species:
– Backebergia militaris* (Audot) Sanchez-Mejorada 1973