The Sonoran Desert is home to various species of hedgehog cacti, which are characterized by their cylindrical or globular shape and numerous spines. Here are some species commonly found in the Sonoran Desert:
- Echinocereus engelmannii (Engelmann’s Hedgehog Cactus): This species typically grows in clusters and can reach a height of up to 2 feet (60 cm). It has showy pink to purplish flowers with a white or pale yellow center. The stems are covered in long, golden spines.
- Echinocereus arizonicus (Arizona Hedgehog Cactus): Inhabits small areas of Arizona and New Mexico, this species has orange to red flowers that bloom in April and May. Considered an endangered species.
- Echinocereus fasciculatus (Claret Cup Cactus): This hedgehog cactus is known for its vibrant red to orange-red flowers, which bloom in late spring. It forms clumps of cylindrical stems with dense clusters of spines that are usually reddish or brownish in color.
- Echinocereus triglochidiatus (Kingcup Cactus or Claret Cup Cactus): This species displays stunning red to orange-red flowers and can grow up to 2 feet (60 cm) tall. It has prominent spines and clusters of cylindrical stems.
- Echinocereus bonkerae (Banana Hedgehog Cactus): This species is characterized by its elongated stems that resemble bananas, hence the name. It has a relatively small size, growing up to 6 inches (15 cm) tall. The stems are covered in yellow or brown spines and produce vibrant pink flowers.
- Echinocereus nicholii (Nichol’s Turk’s Head Cactus): This hedgehog cactus has dense clusters of cylindrical stems covered in numerous yellowish spines. It produces bright pink flowers with a darker pink center. It typically grows to a height of 4 to 12 inches (10 to 30 cm).
- Echinocereus reichenbachii (Lace Hedgehog Cactus): This species is characterized by its delicate appearance and intricate network of spines, resembling lacework. It produces pink to lavender flowers and forms clumps of cylindrical stems.
- Echinocereus dasyacanthus (Hedgehog Cactus): This hedgehog cactus features cylindrical stems covered in dense spines that are usually yellow or white. It produces large, showy pink to purplish flowers with a white or pale yellow center.
Flowers: J F M A M J J A S O N D
Origin: Sonoran and Mojave Deserts
Watering: None once established
Growth Rate: Slow
Disease and Pests: Root rot if soil is too wet
Uses: Nectar plant. Fruit provide food source for wildlife.
Notes: Some species are listed as Salvage Restricted by the USDA NRCS.
Photo of Engelmann’s Hedgehog Cactus
- U of A Campus Arboretum
- Public ASU
- Southwest Desert Flora
- Arizona Highways
- Southwest Desert Flora (Arizona Hedgehog)
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