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Ferocactus emoryi (Emory's Barrel Cactus)


Scientific Name

Ferocactus emoryi (Engelm.) Orcutt

Common Names

Emory's Barrel Cactus, Emory Barrel, Coville's Barrel Cactus, Coville's Cactus, Traveler's Friend, Arizona Barrel Cactus, Long-Spined Barrel Cactus, Sonora Barrel


Ferocactus covillei, Echinocactus emoryi, Echinocactus covillei, Ferocactus emoryi subsp. emoryi

Scientific Classification

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


Ferocactus emoryi is a cactus with a solitary, spherical or cylindrical, light green to glaucous stem that grows up to 8.2 feet (2.5 m) tall and up to 40 inches (1 m) in diameter. It has 15 to 30 ribs with tubercles, especially in the juvenile stage. The spines are white to reddish. The central spine is very strong, up to 4 inches (10 cm) long, while the 7 to 12 radial spines are up to 2.4 inches (6 cm) long. The large flowers are funnel-shaped, usually red or yellow, up to 3 inches (7.5 cm) long and up to 2.8 inches (7 cm) in diameter. Fruits are ovoidal and up to 2 inches (5 cm) long.

Ferocactus emoryi - Emory's Barrel Cactus

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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 southwestern United States (Arizona) and Mexico (Sonora, Sinaloa, and Baja California Sur).


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