Desert-Wise Living >> Desert-Wise Landscaping >> Plant Spotlight

Plant Spotlight: Barrel Cactus

Photos by Susan Gillingham
A native cactus of the Mojave Desert is the barrel cactus, or Ferocactus cylindraceus. The Latin name Ferocactus means fierce or wild cactus. 
The bright pink-red spines of the cactus are particularly apparent after a rain. Older plants form a medium or tall column. Flowers are yellow, appearing in spring and early summer, while the fruits are bright yellow. 
According to, the "Havasupai collected seeds from the fruit and ground them into an edible, porridge mush. These people also warmed the red spines by fire, then bent the spines into finger rings." The fruit itself is described as "not very tasty."

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  • Stacy Doolittle
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