“Wrapped candle wax with cephalium (head)”, because the genus has a cephalium which is literally buried, sunk into the stem.
A genus of erect, semi erect or creeping plants, branching from the base or not (according to species), stems globular or elongated to columnar. Areoles rather small and close to each other, spines variable. Cephalium lateral or apical, more or less embedded in the stem, consisting of wool and robust bristles, wherein the flowers appear.
Flowers nocturnal, self sterile, pollinated by bats and moths (or diurnal in the subgenus Buiningia and so pollinated by hummingbirds), tubular, bell-shaped or funnel-shaped, white, pinkish-white, greenish-white, greenish yellow or purplish red. The fruits are fleshy berries, globular or club-shaped, naked, expelled when ripe and opening through a basal pore. Seeds globose to pyriform, tuberculate, black, mainly dispersed by ants (myrmecochory), also by lizards (saurochory).
The genus Coleocephalocereus grows endemically in Brazil among rocks, on granitic outcrops and often slightly sloped terraces, in cracks where pockets of humus accumulate, also in the caatinga (dry thorn Brazilian forest), together with other cacti and succulents, from 200 m up to 800 m in altitude. Temperatures vary little throughout the year, and the relative humidity is quite high.
Brazil (Bahia, Espirito Santo, Minas Gerais, Rio de Janeiro, Sao Paulo).
Currently 10 species + one doubtful subspecies:
– Coleocephalocereus aureus F.Ritter 1968
– Coleocephalocereus braunii Diers & Esteves 1985
– Coleocephalocereus buxbaumianus Burning 1974
– Coleocephalocereus buxbaumianus subsp. flavisetus (F.Ritter) Taylor & Zappi 1997
– Coleocephalocereus decumbens F.Ritter 1968
– Coleocephalocereus diersianus P.J.Braun & Esteves 1988
– Coleocephalocereus estevesii Diers & Esteves 1978
– Coleocephalocereus fluminensis* (Miq.) Backeb. 1941
– Coleocephalocereus goebelianus* (Vaupel) Burning 1970 (doubtful here)
– Coleocephalocereus pluricostatus Burning & Brederoo 1971
– Coleocephalocereus purpureus F.Ritter 1979
References: "TAXONOMY of the CACTACEAE" - ISBN 978-84-617-3723-9 (Vol. 1)