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FEROCACTUS wislizeni

Image of Ferocactus wislizeni

Maureen Gilmer

Family

Cactaceae

Botanical Name

FEROCACTUS wislizeni

Plant Common Name

Arizona Candy Barrel Cactus, Compass Barrel Cactus, Fishhook Barrel Cactus

General Description

Often called fishhook cactus for the shape of its formidable spines, this small barrel cactus from the American Southwest and northwestern Mexico occurs naturally on gravelly or sandy soils. Dome-shaped when young, it gradually develops into a cylindrical "barrel" with numerous ribs lined with clusters of fearsome spines. Mature plants typically reach waist to shoulder height. Plants lean toward the equator, orienting their vertical axis to avoid direct sun rays in the height of summer. The largest spines are flattened with hooked tips, and are often tinged yellow or brown. The secondary spines that surround them are unhooked. Older plants produce a circle of showy cupped orange-yellow or red-tipped yellow blooms at their tops in summer, followed by 2-inch (5 cm), pear-shaped yellow fruits.

This sun-loving cactus does best in 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. Fishhook is valued by Native Americans for the very wide, stiff spines used as fish hooks and tools, as well as for the potent dye extracted from the flowers. Aid conservation by avoiding wild-collected plants.

Characteristics

  • AHS Heat Zone

    10 - 1

  • 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

  • Height

    2'-10' / 0.6m - 3.0m

  • Width

    1'-4' / 0.3m - 1.2m

  • Bloom Time

    Spring, Late Spring, Early Summer, Summer

  • Native To

    Southwestern United States, Texas, Mexico

Growing Conditions

  • Soil pH

    Neutral

  • Soil Drainage

    Well Drained

  • Soil type

    Loam, 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, Red, Orange

  • Fruit Color

    Yellow

  • Foliage Color (Spring)

    Green

  • Foliage Color (Summer)

    Green

  • Foliage Color (Fall)

    Green

  • Foliage Color (Winter)

    Green

  • 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

  • Foliage Texture

    Bold

  • Evergreen

    Yes

  • Showy Bark

    No

Special Characteristics

  • Usage

    Container, Feature Plant, Houseplant, Mixed Border, Rock Garden / Wall, Wildflower

  • Sharp or Has Thorns

    Yes

  • Invasive

    No

  • Self-Sowing

    No