Scientific: Ferocactus glaucescens (syn. Ferocactus pfeifferi)
Common: blue barrel cactus
Family: Cactaceae
Origin: Rocky limestone slopes in deciduous dry forests and juniper scrub woodlands of east central Mexico, 2,000 to 7,500 feet elevation, endemic.

Pronounciation: Fare-o-CAC-tus glau-KES-cens

Hardiness zones
USDA 9-11 (arid zones only)

Landscape Use: Textural, form and color accent, intermediate barrel cactus for xeric landscapes, desert gardens, and containers.

Form & Character: Spherical to cylindrical, dry desert, neat, clean, recessive, lonely.

Growth Habit: Slow growth rate to 2 feet tall and near equal girth, pleated with 11 to 15 ribs. Often solitary, but sometimes basally branched.

Foliage/Texture: Barrel stem bluish, ribs contain one central spine and up to 7 radial spines per aerole, spines to 2 inches long, spines yellow; coarse texture.

Flowers & Fruits: Flowers clustered at stem terminus, whitish to yellow in color, funnel-shaped up to 2 inches in diameter; fruits are white to 3/4 inch long with the remnants of the flowers attached.

Seasonal Color: Like other barrel cacti, flowers provide a subtle visual accent during the spring to early summer.

Temperature: Tolerant

Light: In Phoenix, light filtered shade is best; protect from western summer sun.

Soil: Well-drained soil

Watering: None

Pruning: None

Propagation: Seed

Disease and pests: Root rot in poorly drained soils.

Additional comments: Blue barrel cactus is a wonderful very low maintenance barrel cactus with a unique bluish cast for desert rock gardens and other xeric managed landscapes in the lower Sonoran Desert.

There are several recognized variants that lack spines:

  • Ferocactus glaucescens f. inermis
  • Ferocactus glaucescens f. nuda
  • Ferocactus glaucescens f. mostruosa nuda
  • Ferocactus glaucescens cv. Split Rock