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FEROCACTUS cylindraceus

Image of Ferocactus cylindraceus

maureen Gilmer

Family

Cactaceae

Botanical Name

FEROCACTUS cylindraceus

Plant Common Name

California Barrel Cactus, Desert Barrel Cactus

Special Notice

This entry has yet to be reviewed and approved by L2G editors.

General Description

The desert barrel cactus is so densely covered in small and large spines on its vertical ribs that you'd never know the underlying green stem-trunk is photosynthesizing sunlight. This slow-growing, upright, succulent evergreen perennial occurs on gravelly or sandy soil across the American Desert Southwest and into Mexico's Sonora and Baja California. This species is often misleadingly and erroneously called the compass barrel cactus, as it's confused with another species from this same region.

The stem rib notches, called areoles, each hold 12 to 32 white-yellow, tan to reddish-pink spines. Mature plants typically reach over head high, with a perfectly straight, upright, pole-like habit. This species doesn't lean consistently like the so-called "compass" barrel cactus (F. wislizeni). Older plants produce a circle of showy, cupped, yellow flowers with dark red sepals (bud coverings). Rarely are the yellow flowers streaked with red or orange. Flowering occurs from early spring to fall, depending on climate and latitude. After pollination, bright yellow fruits develop. Fruits may be fleshy or leathery after they dry, with seeds inside.

This sun-loving cactus must have a well-drained soil. It is equally happy in the ground or in a pot. Give it occasional water in summer, and dry conditions in winter. An irrigation system is not a requirement in the landscape, however. Desert barrel cactus is valued as a tall specimen accent plant in a xeriscape rock garden or water-conservation landscape in regions that lack winter freezes. Aid species conservation by avoiding wild-collected plants.

Characteristics

  • AHS Heat Zone

    12 - 6

  • USDA Hardiness Zone

    9 - 12

  • Sunset Zone

    12, 13, 14, 15, 16, 17, 18, 19, 20, 21, 22, 23, 24

  • Plant Type

    Cactus or Succulent

  • Sun Exposure

    Full Sun, Partial Sun

  • Height

    5'-9' / 1.5m - 2.7m

  • Width

    16"-32" / 40.6cm - 81.3cm

  • Bloom Time

    Spring, Late Spring, Early Summer, Summer

  • Native To

    North America, Southwestern United States, Mexico

Growing Conditions

  • Soil pH

    Acidic, Neutral, Alkaline

  • Soil Drainage

    Well Drained

  • Soil type

    Sand

  • Tolerances

    Drought

  • Growth Rate

    Slow

  • Water Requirements

    Xeric/Desert, Drought Tolerant

  • Habit

    Upright/Erect

  • Seasonal Interest

    Spring, Summer, Fall, Winter

Ornamental Features

  • Flower Interest

    Showy

  • Flower Color

    Yellow, Lemon Yellow

  • Fruit Color

    Yellow

  • 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

    No

  • Showy Foliage

    No

  • Evergreen

    Yes

  • Showy Bark

    No

Special Characteristics

  • Usage

    Feature Plant, Rock Garden / Wall

  • Sharp or Has Thorns

    Yes

  • Invasive

    No

  • Self-Sowing

    No