Barrel Cactus

Marty CohenAgriculture, Arizona, Cactus, Tucson3 Comments

Barrel Cactus

Barrel Cactus in bloom. Tucson Arizona

(To see the most detail in this image, click on it to enlarge it!)

When we were in Tuscon this past April, many of the Cacti we saw were in bloom. This is a Barrel Cactus, or Genus Ferocactus. Ferocactus means “fierce or wild Cactus” and they are always cylindrical or barrel shaped. All members of this genus have prominent rigs and are “fiercely” armed with heavy spines. They usually grow along desert washes. When young, they are often globe-shaped and elongate after becoming about a footing diameter. They grow to heights between 4 and 11 feet.

Barrel Cactus flowers always grow at the top of the plant. They are usually yellow-green, orange or red. The flowers have no spines. They bloom between April through June, depending on local conditions. The fruits become fleshy and often are juicy when mature, but are not usually considered edible. Native Americans would boil the young flowers in water and eat them like cabbage and would mash older boiled flowers for a drink. The pulp has been widely used for making cactus candy, but this has also caused the destruction of this cactus and, therefore, they’re protected in many areas. Source:

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The photo was taken with a Canon EOS 40D, EF17-40mm f/4L lens, 1/1000 sec at f/4.5, ISO 125.

3 Comments on “Barrel Cactus”

  1. Great detail in photo. Looks like an aerial view of a circle of Beakers (the Muppet with tuft of hair on top of his head). I like learning about the subject too. I had no idea these had become endangered because of cactus candy. I love prickly pear cactus candy so I’d better make sure those are not endangered too.

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