Curt Backeberg

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Curt Backeberg (2 August 1894 – 14 January 1966) was a German horticulturist especially known for the collection and classification of cacti.

He travelled extensively through Central and South America, and published a number of books on cacti, including the six-volume, 4,000-page Die Cactaceae, 1958-1962, and the Kakteenlexikon, first appearing in 1966 and updated posthumously.

Although he collected and described many new species and defined a number of new genera, much of his work was based on faulty assumptions about the evolution of cacti and was too focused on geographic distribution; many of his genera have since been reorganized or abandoned. The botanist David Hunt is quoted as saying that he "left a trail of nomenclatural chaos that will probably vex cactus taxonomists for centuries."[1] Nevertheless, his observations regarding the subtle variations among cacti have proven useful for hobbyists, who continue to use many cactus names proposed or upheld in his works.


  1. ^ Anderson, Edward F. (2001), The Cactus Family, Pentland, Oregon: Timber Press, ISBN 978-0-88192-498-5 , p. 98
  2. ^ IPNI.  Backeb.