Carnegiea gigantea, Giant Saguaro

Southwest Desert Flora

Home to the plants of the Sonoran, Chihuahuan and Mojave Deserts

Cirsium ochrocentrum, Yellowspine Thistle

Echinocereus engelmannii, Hedgehog Cactus

Engelmann's Hedgehog Cactus is one of the showiest Hedgehog cacti with large, showy bright rose-pink to magenta. Flowers are short-funnel to bell-shaped. Echinocereus engelmannii Engelmann's Hedgehog Cactus blooms from February to June. Flowers open during the day for several days. Echinocereus engelmannii Engelmann's Hedgehog Cactus is a native perennial that grows up to 12 inches or so. This is a clump-forming species with loose open mounds of up to 60 individual stems. Echinocereus engelmannii Engelmann's Hedgehog Cactus prefers dry desert habitats in the southwestern United States in AZ, CA, NV and UT. This species grows in elevations up to 7,000 feet. Echinocereus engelmannii

Scientific Name: Echinocereus engelmannii
Common Name: Engelmann's Hedgehog Cactus
Also Called: Calico Cactus, Engelmann Hedgehog, Hedgehog Cactus, Saints cactus, Strawberry Cactus, Strawberry Hedgehog, Strawberry Hedgehog Cactus, Purple Torch (Spanish: Sinita Barbona, Cacto Fresa, Pitahayita)
Family: Cactaceae, Cactus Family
Synonyms: ()
Status: Native
Duration: Perennial
Size: Up to 12 inches or so.
Growth Form: Shrub; clump-forming or loose open mounds; up to 60 stems.
Leaves: Leaves modified into spines, spines curved, red, yellow, white or gray. emerging from areoles; lacking glochids.
Flower Color: Bright rose-pink to magenta; flowers large and showy, tubular or short-funnel to bell-shaped, open during the day for several days; fruit matures red, fleshy, spiny, glabrous.
Flowering Season: February to June.
Elevation: Below 7,000 feet.

Habitat Preferences: Dry desert habitats.

Recorded Range: In the United States Echinocereus engelmannii is native to AZ, CA, NV, UT. It is also found throughout Baja California and northern Mexico. In Arizona it is found throughout most of the state.

North America & US County Distribution Map for Echinocereus engelmannii.

U.S. Weed Information: No information available.
Invasive/Noxious Weed Information: No information available.
Wetland Indicator: No information available.

Threatened/Endangered Information: Arizona: all varieties of Echinocereus engelmannii are salvage restricted; Nevada: Echinocereus engelmannii is protected as a Cactus, Yucca, or Christmas tree.

Genus Information: In North America there are 28 species for Echinocereus. Worldwide, The Plant List includes 64 accepted species names and a further 353 scientific names of infraspecific rank for the genus.

In the Southwestern United States: Arizona has 14 species of genus, California, Nevada and Utah each have 3 species, New Mexico has 12 species and Texas has 15 species. All data is approximate and subject to taxonomic changes.

There are 8 varieties in Echinocereus engelmannii:
Echinocereus engelmannii var. acicularis, Engelmann's Hedgehog Cactus (AZ, CA);
Echinocereus engelmannii var. armatus, Engelmann's Hedgehog Cactus (CA, NV);
Echinocereus engelmannii var. chrysocentrus, Engelmann's Hedgehog Cactus (AZ, CA, NV, UT);
Echinocereus engelmannii var. engelmannii, Engelmann's Hedgehog Cactus (AZ, CA, NV);
Echinocereus engelmannii var. howei, Howe's Hedgehog Cactus (AZ, CA, NV);
Echinocereus engelmannii var. munzii, Munz's Hedgehog Cactus (CA, NV);
Echinocereus engelmannii var. purpureus, Engelmann's Hedgehog Cactus (CA);
Echinocereus engelmannii var. variegatus, Engelmann's Hedgehog Cactus (AZ, UT).

Comments: Engelmann's Hedgehog Cactus is by far one of the most common hedgehog cactus in the Chihuahuan, Sonoran and Mojave Deserts. With 8 varieties it is clear that this species is highly variable and, at times, unclearly divided into varieties. Experts agree that further studies are needed.

Engelmann's Hedgehog Cactus is named in honor of George Engelmann (1809-1884), a German-American botanist instrumental in describing the flora of the west of North America. Mr. Engelmann was particularly active in the Rocky Mountains and northern Mexico.

In Southwest Desert Flora also see: Pinkflower Hedgehog, Echinocereus bonkerae, Scarlet Hedgehog Cactus, Echinocereus coccineus, Hedgehog Cactus, Pinkflower Hedgehog Cactus, Echinocereus fasciculatus and Rainbow Hedgehog Cactus, Echinocereus rigidissimus.

Hedgehog Cactus has been used for food by southwestern United States indigenous peoples.

  • Pima Food, Fruit; Ripe fruits freed from spines and eaten raw.
  • Pima, Gila River Food, Snack Food; Fruit eaten primarily by children as a snack food
  • Yavapai Food, Fruit; Raw fruit used for food.
  • Yavapai Food, Unspecified; Boiled buds used for food.
  • Apache, Chiricahua & Mescalero Food, Fruit; Raw fruit used for food.

  • See complete listing of ethno-botanical uses at Native American Ethnobotany, University of Michigan, Dearborn.

    References: Posted 06/05/2015, rev. 07/21/2015, updated 07/27/2017, updated format 10/11/2017
    Arizona Flora, Kearney, Thomas H., Peebles, Robert H., 1960, University of California Press, Berkley and Los Angeles, California.
    U.S. Dept. of Agriculture, Natural Resources Conservation Service on-line database and USGS ITIS search (accessed 07/26/2017).
    The Plant List (2013). Version 1.1. Published on the Internet; (accessed 07/24/2017).
    Native Plant Information Network, NPIN (2013). Published on the Internet [accessed: 07/27/2017]. Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center at The University of Texas, Austin, TX.
    Allan D. Zimmerman & Bruce D. ParfittFNA FNA | Family List | FNA Vol. 4 | Cactaceae | Echinocereus; 9. Echinocereus engelmannii (Parry ex Engelmann) Lemaire, Cactées. 56. 1868. ; Flora of North America Editorial Committee, eds. 1993+. Flora of North America North of Mexico. 16+ vols. New York and Oxford.
    Bruce D. Parfitt 2017. Echinocereus engelmannii, in Jepson Flora Project (eds.) Jepson eFlora,, accessed on July 27, 2017.
    Wikipedia contributors. "George Engelmann." Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia. Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia, 7 May. 2017. Web.; 27 Jul. 2017
    SEINet for synonyms, scientific names and recorded geographic locations,