• WordNet 3.6
    • n Melocactus genus of strongly ribbed globose or spheroid cacti of tropical South and Central America and the Caribbean
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Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia
    • n melocactus 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-cactus or 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.
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In literature:

We saw our first Melocactus, and our first night-blowing Cereus creeping over the rocks.
"At Last" by Charles Kingsley
The most prominent distinctive characters of Melocactus reside in the cap or cluster of spines, wool, and flowers on the summit of the stem.
"Cactus Culture For Amateurs" by W. Watson