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Ferocactus cylindraceus (California Barrel Cactus)


Scientific Name

Ferocactus cylindraceus (Engelm.) Orcutt

Common Names

California Barrel Cactus, Cliff Barrel Cactus, Compass Barrel Cactus, Compass Cactus, Desert Barrel Cactus, Golden-Spine Barrel Cactus, Spiny Barrel Cactus


Echinocactus acanthodes, Echinocactus viridescens var. cylindraceus

Scientific Classification

Family: Cactaceae
Subfamily: Cactoideae
Tribe: Cacteae
Genus: Ferocactus


Ferocactus cylindraceus is a cactus with a spherical stem that becomes cylindrical. Some older specimens form columns up to 6.6 feet (2 m) in height. It is covered in long spines, one slightly to moderately hooked. They are red when new and become curved and gray as they age. Flowers are maroon outside and bright yellow inside, with red or yellow centers on the side that faces the sun. The fleshy, hollow fruits are yellow.

Ferocactus cylindraceus - California Barrel Cactus


USDA hardiness zones 9a to 11b: from 20 °F (−6.7 °C) to 50 °F (+10 °C).

How to Grow and Care

Choose a location that receives direct sun during all or most of the day. Plant your Barrel Cactus in early spring before new roots begin to form. The roots may appear dry, but that is typical before new growth begins. Dig a hole deep enough for the plant's roots and amend it as needed to provide fast-draining soil. A good soil mixture includes 10 percent native soil, 45 percent washed sand or pumice, and 45 percent compost.

Water the cactus at the time of planting to anchor it into the soil. Water again only if the weather in your area is unseasonably dry and if normal spring or winter rainfall doesn't occur. Ferocactus needs a dormant period with dry soil during the winter.

Learn more at How to Grow and Care for Ferocactus.


Native to the southwestern United States and northwestern Mexico.


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