The genus name Ferocactus is from the Latin ‘ferox’ which means ferocious. These cacti are always cylindrical or barrel shaped, with flowers that grow on the top of the plant.
Some notable species of barrel cactus that grow in the Sonoran Desert:
- Ferocactus cylindraceus (California Barrel Cactus): This species is native to the Mojave Desert and parts of the Sonoran Desert. It has a cylindrical shape with prominent ribs and can reach a height of up to 3 feet (1 meter). It produces large, showy yellow flowers at the top of the plant during springtime.
- Ferocactus wislizeni (Arizona Barrel Cactus): Commonly found in the Sonoran Desert, this barrel cactus gets its name from the distinctive hook-shaped spines that grow from its central spines. It has a globular shape and can grow up to 6 feet (2 meters) tall. It produces yellow or orange flowers during the summer months.
- Ferocactus emoryi (Emory’s Barrel Cactus): This species is native to the southwestern United States, including the Sonoran Desert. It has a round or barrel-shaped body with prominent ribs and grows up to 5 feet (1.5 meters) in height. It blooms with large yellow or red flowers during spring.
Flowers: J F M A M J J A S O N D
Origin: Sonoran and Mojave Deserts
Size: Varies by species
Watering: None to supplemental
Growth Rate: Varies
Soil: Tolerant, but consider well draining soil a must
Disease and Pests:
Uses: Pollen and nectar for insects, fruit and seeds for birds and mammals, water source for birds and small mammals
Notes: Although indigenous peoples have used barrel cacti as an emergency water source, the juice contains Oxalic acid and may contain other elements or bacteria that can have negative side effects.
Photo is a California Barrel Cactus
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