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Ferocactus pilosus (Mexican Lime Cactus)


Scientific Name

Ferocactus pilosus (Galeotti ex Salm-Dyck) Werderm.

Common Names

Mexican Lime Cactus, Fire Barrel, Mexican Fire Barrel, Mexican Fire Barrel Cactus


Echinocactus pilosus (basionym), Echinocactus piliferus, Echinocactus piliferus, Echinocactus pringlei, Echinocactus stainesii, Ferocactus piliferus, Ferocactus pringlei, Ferocactus stainesii

Scientific Classification

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


Ferocactus pilosus is one of the most spectacular species in the genus. It is a simple or clumping, deep green, barrel-shaped to columnar cactus with 13 to 20 prominent ribs adorned with areoles sprouting bright red central spines and bristle-like, white radials. Over time, it often forms groups with several subsidiary barrels growing from the main one. The flowers are yellow to red, up to 1 inch (2.5 cm) in diameter, and appear from late spring to summer. They form a discreet ring at the top of the plant. The fruits are yellow and up to 1.6 inches (4 cm) long.

Ferocactus pilosus (Mexican Lime Cactus)

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USDA hardiness zones 9b to 11b: from 25 °F (−3.9 °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.


Ferocactus pilosus is native to Mexico.


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