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ECHINOCEREUS engelmannii

Image of Echinocereus engelmannii

maureen Gilmer

Family

Cactaceae

Botanical Name

ECHINOCEREUS engelmannii

Plant Common Name

Calico Cactus, Engelmann's Hedgehog Cactus, Hedgehog Cactus

General Description

Cloaked in ferocious spines, this low spreading cactus is so adaptable it can be grown just about anywhere in the American southwest and even some states further north. This beautiful mounding cactus is from the southwestern United States and northwestern Mexico, with populations occurring from sea level up to very alpine locations. It varies widely across its native range, resulting in the naming of several subspecies and varieties.

Engelman’s cactus is composed of many cylindrical stems formed at the base that range from 30 to as many as 60 in very old plants. The stems are light green and have 10 to 13 ribs lined with areoles that hold 2 to 7 central spines and 6 to 14 reflexed, radial spines. Very old plants reach the diameter of a compact car tire and knee height.

Like most Echinocereus, this is an outstanding bloomer that produces flowers in spring. The fabulous blossoms occur on the upper third of the stems. They are large, deep magenta and have a large cluster of golden stamens in the center that surround a pistil with distinctly green stigma lobes. Edible, golf ball sized fruits of red or orange are produced later in late spring and summer.

Grow this fabulous cactus in poor, rocky and well-drained soils. Plants thrive in full sun, but appreciate light shade in hot low-desert sites. Wild specimens are often notched into gaps between boulders, which protect them from direct afternoon sun. This is one of the finest native cacti for the landscape. It can also be grown in containers and troughs and makes a fine houseplant if provided high light and cool, dry winter conditions.

Characteristics

  • AHS Heat Zone

    12 - 5

  • USDA Hardiness Zone

    8 - 12

  • Sunset Zone

    2a, 2b, 3a, 3b, 7, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15, 16, 17, 18, 19, 20, 21, 22, 23, 24

  • Plant Type

    Cactus or Succulent

  • Sun Exposure

    Full Sun

  • Height

    6"-24" / 15.2cm - 61.0cm

  • Width

    8"-36" / 20.3cm - 91.4cm

  • Bloom Time

    Early Spring, Spring

  • Native To

    Southwestern United States, Mexico

Growing Conditions

  • Soil pH

    Neutral

  • Soil Drainage

    Well Drained

  • Soil type

    Sand

  • Tolerances

    Drought

  • Growth Rate

    Slow

  • Water Requirements

    Xeric/Desert, Drought Tolerant

  • Habit

    Cushion/Mound-forming

  • Seasonal Interest

    Spring, Summer, Fall, Winter

Ornamental Features

  • Flower Interest

    Showy

  • Flower Color

    Purple, Pink, Magenta

  • Fruit Color

    Red, Orange

  • Fragrant Flowers

    No

  • Fragrant Fruit

    No

  • Fragrant Foliage

    No

  • Bark or Stem Fragrant

    No

  • Flower Petal Number

    Single

  • Repeat Bloomer

    No

  • Showy Fruit

    Yes

  • Edible Fruit

    Yes

  • Showy Foliage

    No

  • Evergreen

    Yes

  • Showy Bark

    No

Special Characteristics

  • Usage

    Container, Edible, Houseplant, Mixed Border, Rock Garden / Wall, Wildflower

  • Sharp or Has Thorns

    Yes

  • Invasive

    No

  • Attracts

    Birds

  • Self-Sowing

    No