Scientific: Ferocactus wislizeni
Common: Arizona barrel cactus, compass barrel cactus, candy barrel cactus
Origin: Upland Mojave and Sonoran Deserts at elevations between 1,000 and 4,000 feet on slopes with porous rocky soils.
Pronounciation: Fare-o-CAC-tus wi-sli-zen-EE-i
USDA 9-11 (arid zones only)
Landscape Use: Stout accent or specimen barrel cacti for xeric landscapes, desert gardens, containers.
Form & Character: These are stout, slowly developing columnar cacti that like other Ferocactus species evoke feelings of solitary and loneliness.
Growth Habit: Evergreen succulent, slow growing and long-lived columnar cactus eventually to 10-feet tall by 1.5-feet wide, will sparsely branch or clump at its base with age. The fluted ribs of both species tend to revolve about elongating stem trunk that leans to the south over time.
Foliage/Texture: Arizona barrel cactus has stiff reddish to gray-curved spines found growing on the ridges in clusters at each aerole, somtimes hooked towards the stem terminus, VERY coarse texture.
Flowers & Fruits: Arizona barrel cacti have ringed clusters of small cup-shaped flowers at the terminal meristem in shades of red to orange to yellow, flower sepals are red. Flowering is followed by development of yellow, oval-shaped, scaly fruit, densely arranged in number at the stem apex, generally fleshy and indehiscent 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, while fruits add a nice accent during the fall and winter.
Light: Full sun
Soil: In urban landscape soils with limited topography (slope), compass barrel cacti REQUIRE a well-drained soil.
Disease and Pests: Root rot in poorly drained soils.
Additional comments: Arizona barrel cacti are easily transplanted and are nice solitary cacti for rock gardens and desert landscape themes. Arizona barrel cacti without revolving ridges about their barrel tend to grow faster on their shady side which cause then to lean in a southerly (south to southwest) direction, hence the other common name "compass cactus". This tendency can be affected by
a plant's juxaposition in the urban landscape to other elements like buildings and trees
that affect the amount and direction of direct sun exposure.
The genus name Ferrocactus is from the Latin 'ferox' which means ferocious.
Ferocactus species taxonomy is confused due to variable phenology.
The genus name Ferrocactus is from the Latin 'ferox' which means ferocious. Ferocactus species taxonomy is confused due to variable phenology.