The name 'Turbinicarpus' has a double origin of Greek & Latin.
Latin -- 'Turbo, turbines': meaning 'top'
Greek -- 'Karpos': meaning 'fruit'.
The first member of Turbinicarpus was first described in 1927 by Bödecker as 'Echinocactus schmiedeckianus . It was later included in the sub-genus 'Turbinicarpus' at this time a sub-genus of the genus 'Strombocactus'. In 1937 'Turbinicarpus' was elevated by Buxbaum and Backeberg to having its own genus.
Turbincarpus species populate the North Eastern regions of Mexico and is found in the following states:
San luis Potosi.
Turbincarpus species grow in arid regions having a mean average rainfall of 300-600mm. They mostly grow on limestone soils, some on almost pure natural Gypsum. Many species grow on sloping sites in cracks and niches. The plants taproot acts as an anchor in the loose stony soil, but more importantly a water store for periods of drought.
The species are generally small growing many not exceeding 50mm in diameter small, globular to shortly-cylindrical, occasionally offsetting from the base. The Tubercles are low and the Areoles often with curved or twisted, sometimes papery, flexible central spines. The papery spines have the ability to absorb water. The Flowers are sometimes solitary or grouped together around the apex, funnel-shaped, white to pink to red or yellowish. The Pericarpel has a few scales, rarely with a few woolly hairs and bristles in their axils, usually naked and smooth skinned. The Fruit globular to oval, berry-like, becoming dry, occasionally with isolated scale remains, otherwise smooth and naked, splitting at the base or laterally, floral remains deciduous or persistent. Seeds are oval, often with pronounced crest; seed coat black and warty.
Turbinicarpus grow depressed in the soil or level with the ground and may prove difficult to spot until they flower.
In the wild many species are becoming rare due to there habitat being destroyed by farming and industry. Also by illegal collecting, this unfortunately, is still an active pastime.