Home | E-mail | Plant files | Mail Sale Catalogue | Links | Information | Search

All the information and photos in cactus art file are now available also in the new the Enciclopedia of Cacti. We hope you find this new site informative and useful.


Echinocactus grusonii

Cultivation and Mail Sale
of Cacti and Succulents.

A young specimen

Description: It has a single slowly growing globe-shaped stem that became elongated (barrel-shaped) in maturity, up to 90cm (180cm) in height and spread. This stem is pale green and heavily ribbed with numerous areoles sprouting radial, yellow spines. They normally offset with advanced age and a few multiples occur even at small sizes.
The flowers are produced from end of spring to summer only on larger mature specimens receiving enough full sun. Flower are diurnal,  vivid yellow (4-5 cm wide) and form a circular ring at the top of the plant, but are not very visible being small in relation with the size of the barrel, and lost into the creamy coloured wool at the plant apex.


Echinocactus grusonii var. albispina
Echinocactus grusonii mostruosus clone A
Echinocactus grusonii monstruosus clone A

Echinocactus grusonii var. brevispinus
Echinocactus grusonii brevispinus

Echinocactus grusonii brevispinus cristata

Echinocactus grusonii cristata

Echinocactus grusonii var. curvipinus
(cv. Krauskopf)

Echinocactus grusonii
setispinus mostruosus

Echinocactus grusonii "intermedius"

Landscape value: E. grusonii is a wonderful popular plant for adding texture, colour and shape to landscapes, it gives a huge dose of impact. The striking round shape and the dramatic golden bright-yellow spines that absolutely light up in daylight, especially when backlit are unique. It is an eye catcher without equal. Unlike many plants, the "golden barrels" get more and more beautiful as they grow. As old specimens they can be truly majestic. They are best planted close together among large rocks or boulders.

How to Grow E. grusonii from seeds.
E. grusonii will produce hundreds of fruits each season. Several months after the flower dies off and the pods are ripen it is possible to collect them from under the dried flower.  The pods will come off with a slight twist, leaving the wool on the cactus. Use a knife to slice down one side of the pod to expose the seed and scrape them out. The seeds are mahogany or reddish amber and tiny. Then place the seeds in some water to soak overnight. Fill germination trays with a well blended mixture of 60% peat moss 40% vermiculite and one to one part of coarse sand or pumice. Use a horse syringe to suck the small seeds and some of the water into the syringe. With the syringe, distribute the seeds evenly in the germination tray, shaking the syringe so the seeds don't settle at the bottom and all come out at once. Some growers also recommend to cold-stratify seeds in a refrigerator for a year prior to sow them. But can also be used dry seeds too. Place then the trays in filtered sun, cover with a glass sheet and keep the soil moist until the seeds germinate in approximately 2 to 6 weeks. They will look like small spheres, red in colour not green. Then gradually remove the glass cover. When the small cacti start to sprout tiny spines, use a pair of tweezers to transfer them from the propagation trays into 5 cm pots filled with the same soil mix used in the germination trays. Allow the small cacti to grow for about one/two year and then move the cacti to 10 cm pots and allow them to grow further.

Photo of conspecific taxa, varieties, forms and cultivars of Echinocactus grusonii:



Family: Cactaceae (Cactus Family)

Scientific Name: Echinocactus grusonii

Vernacular Names:

  • Golden barrel cactus,
  • Golden ball cactus,
  • Mother-in-law's-seat,
  • Mother-in-law's-cushion.

Conservation status: Listed in CITES appendix 2.

Distribution:  Rio Moctezuma Valley, Queretaro Central Mexico
Habitat:  The intense overcollection in its native habitat has led this plant becoming endangered in the wild, for this reason E. grusonii were the focus of an intensive rescue effort. In fact the Rio Moctezuma Valley, the native habitat of this cactus, was scheduled to be flooded after the construction of a major dam. A Mexican botanical garden hurried to remove these and other rare plants prior to the damís construction. Despite the fact that few plant remain in the wild today, their off-site conservation has allowed for extensive propagation by nurseries, and the golden barrel cactus is now one of the most common cacti in cultivation.
Note: Older specimens take on an oblong shape with age. They also tend to lean to the south or southwest so that the spines can better protect the body of the plant from the harsh desert sun. In fact, desert travellers can use the plant as a compass.

            The juvenile Echinocactus look quite
           different from the mature specimens.

In fact like the other Echinocactus and Ferocactus seedlings, the rib structure is not yet apparent, and they have pronounced tubercles making them look superficially like Mammillarias.


E. grusonii are
summer-growing and pretty easy plants to cultivate. They are suited for any rich, well drained soil  such us clay, pumice, lava grit, and only a little peat or leaf-mould. If potted, repot preferably in the spring, if their roots become cramped.  Generally, they should be repotted every other year in order to provide fresh soil. However, this doesn't necessarily mean they'll need larger containers. Fill about a quarter of the pot with broken crocks, gravel, etc. to promote good drainage. After repotting, do not water for a week or more. Water regularly during the aestival growth cycle (this plant need plenty of water, but do not overwater and let their soil dry out between waterings), and also needs to be avoided wetting the body of this plant while it is in sunlight. A wet cactus in the sun light can cause sun burning which can lead to scares or even fungal infections and death, keep rather dry in winter. No water should ever be allowed to stand around the roots. Feed with a high potassium fertilizer in summer.
Exposure: Outside they need a bright exposure, full sun or half shade in summer if the location is exceedingly hot or bright, inside needs bright light, and some direct sun. It can tolerate moderate shade, and a plant that has been growing in shade should be slowly hardened off before placing it in full sun as the plant will be severely scorched if moved too suddenly from shade into sun.
Frost Tolerance: Light frost protection required for safe cultivation, but can tolerate sporadic light frost.
Diseases and pests: Watch for infestations of mealybug, scale insects and spider mite. Plant in good conditions will start to  bloom when reach the diameter of 40-50 cm.


Photo gallery: Alphabetical listing of Cactus and Succulent pictures published in this site.

Photo gallery ECHINOCACTUS

Home | E-mail | Plant files | Mail Sale Catalogue | Links | Information | Search

All the information and photos in cactus art file are now available also in the new the Enciclopedia of Cacti. We hope you find this new site informative and useful.