Pronounciation: Fare-o-CAC-tus sa-lin-DRA-see-us
USDA 9-11 (arid zones only)
Landscape Use: Accent cacti for xeric landscapes, desert gardens, containers.
Form & Character: This is a stout, slowly developing columnar cacti that can evoke feelings of solitary and loneliness in the landscape.
Growth Habit: Stout, short, very slow growing and long-lived columnar cactus eventually to 7 feet by 1.5 feet wide, seldom branch at the base.
Foliage/Texture: California barrel cactus has stiff, straight red spines when immature becoming cruved and gray with age. Spines are found growing on the ridges in clusters, 12 to 32, at each aerole, center spines, usually four at each areole are largest and longest; VERY coarse texture.
Flowers & Fruits: California barrel cactus has ringed clusters of small cup-shaped flowers at the terminal meristem in shades of yellow, flower sepals are maroon. Flowering is followed by development of sometimes dense terminal clusters of bright yellow, oval-shaped, mostly fleshy but hallow fruit, generally dehiscent to 3/4 inch long at the apex of the barrel. Each fruit contain as many as 30,000 seeds.
Seasonal Color: Flowers provide a subtle visual accent during the early summer heat of May and fruit give a yellow hat-like adornment during the following fall and winter. Kind of reminds me of.....being alone.....
Light: Full sun
Soil: In urban landscape soils with limited topography (slope), California barrel cacti MUST have a well-drained soil.
Disease and pests: Root rot in poorly drained soils.
Additional comments: California barrel cacti are easily transplanted and are nice solitary cacti for rock gardens and desert landscape themes. The genus name Ferrocactus is from the Latin 'ferox' which means ferocious. Ferocactus species taxonomy is confused due to variable phenology.