Ferocactus cylindraceus, California Barrel Cactus
Scientific Name: Ferocactus cylindraceus
Common Name: California Barrel Cactus
Also Called: California Barrelcactus, California Fire Barrel Cactus, Compass Barrel, Desert Barrel Cactus, Golden-spined Barrel Cactus, miner's Compass (Spanish: Biznaga, Visnaga)
Family: Cactaceae, Cactus Family
Synonyms: (Echinocactus acanthodes, Ferocactus acanthodes)
Size: Up to 5 feet or more.
Growth Form: Shrub; one erect stem (or leaning), taller than wide, spheric to columnar.
Leaves: Leaves modified into spines emerging from areoles; 10 to 32 spines per areole, plants lack glochids; new spines generally red or yellow fading to gray toward maturity; central spines 4 per areole, principal central spine is largest and moderately curved or twisted, hooked spines found only on immature plants.
Flower Color: Maroon outside, yellow inside; inner perianth commonly yellow or orange to red; fruit yellow; stigma lobes yellow to red; fruit dehiscent, bright yellow, rarely reddish; deeply hollow except for seeds.
Flowering Season: April to May.
Elevation: 200 to 4,900 feet.
Habitat Preferences: Gravelly, rocky slopes, sandy areas, chaparral (interior chaparral in California), Creosote Bush scrub, Joshua Tree woodland communities; Mojave and Sonoran desert scrub.
Recorded Range: In the United States Ferocactus cylindraceus is found in southeast California and southwest Arizona. It is also found in Baja California and northern Mexico.
North America & US County Distribution Map for Ferocactus cylindraceus.
U.S. Weed Information: No information available.
Invasive/Noxious Weed Information: No information available.
Wetland Indicator: No information available.
Threatened/Endangered Information: Arizona: Ferocactus cylindraceus is salvage restricted; unofficial: threatened by collecting in California, monitoring needed.
Genus Information: In North America there are 6 species and 6 accepted taxa overall for Ferocactus. Worldwide, The Plant List includes 24 accepted species names and a further 149 scientific names of infraspecific rank for the genus.
In the Southwestern United States: Arizona has 4 species of Ferocactus, California, New Mexico and Texas each have 2 species, Nevada and Utah each have 1 species. All data is approximate and subject to taxonomic changes.
There are 2 varieties in Ferocactus cylindraceus;
Ferocactus cylindraceus var. cylindraceus, California Barrel Cactus (AZ, CA);
Ferocactus cylindraceus var. lecontei, Leconte's Barrel Cactus (AZ, CA, NV, UT).
Comments: California Barrel Cactus has incorrectly been called by the common name "compass barrel", however California Barrel Cactus actually grows mostly straight up and does not lean or tilt toward the south. "Compass Barrel" is more appropriately reserved for Candy Barrelcactus Ferocactus wislizeni.
Ferocactus cylindraceus was originally described by George Engelmann in 1853. George Engelmann (1809-1884) was 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 Candy Barrelcactus, Ferocactus wislizeni.