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  Echinocereus polyacanthus CACTUS ART

Cultivation and Mail Sale
of Cacti and Succulents.

Echinocereus polyacanthus SB191 Cusihuiriachic, Chihuahua, Mexico,
The flowers are a beautiful deep red, with many petals that form the shape of a cup and a wooly tube.
They bloom from April through June, and are among the the first to bloom in the desert.

Description: Solitary or clumping, forming large clumps, generally less than 50, but occasionally of several hundred stems.  This species is very variable, and the several varieties are so different-looking that the only uniting factor is the bright red bloom and rounded petals.
Stems: Light green
, often tinged with red, cylindrical tapering toward the tip, each stem up to  30 cm tall, 7 cm in diameter.
Ribs: 9 to 13
, usually 10 well defined ones,  low, either tuberculate or not.
Areoles: Approximately 1-1.5 cm apart
, and somewhat woolly.
Central spines: 1 to 7
, yellowish or brown, expanded basally, straight, elongated, becoming grey as they age, reaching up to 5 cm long, but variable in length.
Radial spines: 6 to 17 (usually about 12)
, dirty white or reddish, often overlapping,  up to 2 cm long but often much shorter.
Flowers: Diurnal, arising near the stem
's apex, tubular to funnel-form, brilliant pinkish-orange to deep red with a yellowish or whitish  colored throat, 3-14 cm long, 3-8 cm in diameter, ovary and tube with yellowish spines and abundant cobwebby wool in the axil of the scales, which is lacking in other similar species.
Blooming season:
Apr-Jun, the flowers  remain open for 2 or 3 days. Blooming generally begins 5 to 10 years after sowing
, as the plant matures.
Fruit: Ovoid, green,  with white pulp, indehisent and edible.

Originally this species was incleded in Echinocereus triglochidiatus, a name used for a large group of diploid and polyploid taxa treated as conspecific by L. D. Benson (1969, 1982).  The tetraploids are now recognized distinct species such as E. coccineus, including E. polyacanthus Engelmann of Mexico.


There are a number of varieties of this highly variable cactus species, but not all are universally recognized.  Some authorities recognize the following varieties:

E. polyacanthus ssp. polyacanthus  tends to be smaller flowered, with flowers 3-7 cm in diameter. It occurs throughout the range of the species.
E. polyacanthus ssp.  acifer has flowers 6-8 cmin diameter,
and occurs in northern, central and western Mexico.
E. polyacanthus ssp. huitcholensis has flowers
4-8 cm in diameter. It occurs west of the Sierra Madre occidental, in western México.
E. polyacanthus ssp. pacificus has small flowers,
up to only three cm long.  It occurs in Baja California.

This cactus is widely cultivated for its flowers.  It is among the easiest species to grow, flower and propagate.  Water regularly from March to October.  Rot prone in winter, it needs good drainage. Claret Cups require strong sunlight to maintain a healthy appearance, and a harsh "dry and cool" winter environment combined with maximum light exposure enhances spring flower production.
Frost Tolerance: Depends on the variety
 The species from Baja California is less resistant (hardy to -5° C);  the other varieties are much more cold resistant (some populations can tolerate temperatures down  to -12° C or less)

Photo of conspecific taxa, varieties, forms and cultivars
 of plants belonging to the Echinocereus polyacanthus complex
(This Taxon has lots of synonyms  whit several controversial varieties and subspecies and comprises a multitude of different forms, but where each form is linked to others by populations of plants with intermediate characteristics):



Family: Cactaceae (Cactus Family)

Scientific name:  Echinocereus polyacanthus Engelmann 1848a:104.
TL: Mexico, Chihuahua, Cosihuiriachi, Wislizenus, 1846 (MO).

OriginUSA (South-eastern Arizona, Western New Mexico), large areas in northwestern Mexico (Chihuaua, Cosihuiriachi and into the Baja California Peninsula)

Conservation status: Listed in CITES appendix 2.


  • Cereus polyacanthus (Engelmann) Engelmann 1849
  • Echinocereus triglochidiatus var. polyacanthus (Engelmann) Benson 1944
  • Echinocereus polyacanthus var. acifer* Parker 1996:4 nom. nud. 
    = Echinocereus acifer.

    = Echinocereus polyacanthus
    ssp. acifer (Otto ex Salm-Dyck) Taylor 1997
  • Echinocereus polyacanthus var. acifer fa. huitcholensis Parker 1996:4. nom. nud.
    = Echinocereus huitcholensis.
  • Echinocereus polyacanthus var. acifer fa. matthesianus Parker 1996:4 nom. nud.
    = Echinocereus matthesianus

Common NameMojave Mound Cactus, Giant claret-cup cactus, Salmon flowered hedgehog.

Etymology: Echinocerens comes from the Greek word "Echinos" meaning "Hedgehog" (an animal similar to a Porcupine) and "polyacanthus" is Greek for "many spined" 


A mutant with curled petals

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

Photo gallery Echinocereus

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.