Etymology - From the Greek stenos meaning narrow and referring to the ribs which are very thin on most species in this genus.
A number of species of the genus Stenocactus are popular in cultivation. The plants are globose and remain relatively small making them very manageable in pots. Additionally, they grow easily and flower readily - often one of the first in a cactus collection to flower in the spring. In addition to their ball-shape, most species in this genus have unique fin-like ribs that are very numerous. This gives them a look reminiscent of undersea coral. Spines are usually present and prominent, but not to the point of obscuring the stem. Flowers arise at the apex and are often white with a wide, dark pink midstripe, but can be a plain creamy white. This genus is native to the Chihuahuan desert in Mexico.
Individual plants can vary considerably within a species and this makes identification in this genus notoriously difficult. Due to a long and convoluted nomenclatural history, the genus is often still grown and traded among collectors under the genus name Echinofossulocactus.