|On the cover.It is quite likely that Christopher Columbus found melocacti to be some of the most unusual plants that he saw during his explorations of the Caribbean Islands. That fascination continues today, and melocacti are favorites of cactus enthusiasts. The genus Melococtus includes about 30 species, most of which are native to Central and South America, but with about a half dozen found on the islands of the Caribbean.|
Bonaire is the alphabetically central, but geographically eastern member of the "ABC Islands." Along with its better known neighbors Aruba and Curaçao, Bonaire comprises the southern component of the Dutch Antilles. This group of small islands lies about 60 miles off the north coast of Venezuela. They are out of the normal tropical storm track, and therefore quite dry, and quite covered with cacti. The primary (only?) species of Melocactus on Bonaire is M.macroconthos (meaning "big-spined" melocactus). It occurs abundantly throughout the island, on both volcanic rock and limestone, often seemingly growing out of solid rock. Other cacti of interest on Bonaire include three arborescent species, Cereus repandus, Pilosocereus lanuginosus, and Stenocereus griseus, as well as some opuntias. Dan Mahr took this photo in mid February, 2003, a bit east of Rincon in the northern part of the island.