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Ferocactus covillei
(Syn: Ferocactus emoryi)

Cultivation and Mail Sale
of Cacti and Succulents.

Ferocactus covillei ( = emoryi)

The clean, sparsely spined appearance leads to a very attractive plant. The spines sit on prominent nipples when young which will fade into the rib with age.

The species name F. covillei was used to indicate the plant originary found in southwestern Arizona, but they are in fact almost identical and not distinguishable from F. emoryi to which this plant must be rightly placed.

Etymology: Covillei - For F.V. Coville (1867-1937), botanist and curator of U.S. National Herbarium. Coville was the botanist for the 1893 Death Valley Expedition.

Description: F. covillei( = F. emoryi) is a solitary barrel cactus except in case of injury to the growing tip, it lacks the lower radial spines of F. wislizenii and F. acanthodes but has similar heavy, ridged, hooked central spines.
Stems: Erect, globular when young to a stout cylinder when older, 30-90(-250) tall × 30-60 (100) cm in diameter; tubercled when young later forming ribs.
Ribs: (15-)21-32, shallowly notched immediately above each areole.
Areoles: oval with brown wool, 2-2.5 cm apart.
Spines: 6-10 per areole, reddish, reddish grey, or horn colored, all robust and rigid, more than 1 mm diam.;
Central spine: 1, curved slightly to fully hooked, (hooked only on relatively young plants), heavy, roughly cross-ribbed, annulate, thick, adaxially flat, 55-95(-130) long × 2.5-4 mm. in cross section.
Radial spines: 5 to 9 similar to central, spreading, not hooked, 2.5 to 5cm long.
Flowers: Reddish outside, brilliant red inside, 6-7.5 × 5-7.5 cm; inner tepals brilliant red [or occasionally yellow]; stigma lobes brilliant red.
Fruits: Persistent, oblong, scaled, 2,5-5cm long × 25-35 mm long in diameter with the dried remains of the flower atop, ± readily dehiscent through basal pore, bright yellow, 50, leathery or fleshy, locule dry, hollow except for seeds. Often the fruit are broken into and the seed eaten by birds or rodents.
Seeds: 2 mm. in diameter, black.

Seeds are the only way of reproducing.

Attention: The spines that hook around can graph you if you get too close.

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

Photo gallery Ferocactus



Family: Cactaceae (Cactus Family) 

Scientific Name: Ferocactus emoryi ssp. emoryi (Engelmann) Orcutt,
Published in: Cactography. 1926(1): 5. 1926.

Basyonim: Echinocactus emoryi Engelmann
Published in: Proc. Amer. Acad. Arts 3: 275. 1856.


  • Echinocactus covillei Berger1829
  • Ferocactus covillei Britton & Rose 1922

Common Names: Emory’s barrel cactus, Coville’s barrel cactus

Origin:  It is native of the lower deserts of Arizona (Yuma, Pima and Maricopa Co.) and Mexico (Sonora).

Habitat: Hillsides, wash margins, alluvial fans, mesas, or flats, gravely rocky or sandy soils, rocky slopes and adjacent bajadas, Sonoran desert scrub, igneous substrates; 0-1200 m; Gravely, sandy, or rocky soils of hillsides, alluvial fans, and wash margins at 450 to 750m elevation.

Conservation status: Listed in CITES appendix 2.

Note: Ferocactus emoryi has a confused taxonomic history. The name is based on Echinocactus emoryi, which was published twice by Engelmann, each involving a different species. Engelmann’s first use of E. emoryi [in W. H. Emory]---applied to a population of Ferocactus wislizeni in eastern Arizona---is rejected as provisional and therefore invalid. However, Engelmann’s second use of E. emoryi was a valid publication, and it unambigously pertains to the species in southwestern Arizona that Britton and Rose unncecessarily re-named as Ferocactus covillei.


The young 
spines have a great looking red.

Cultivation: Slow growing to start but does well under cultivation.  Use very draining soil, water during the aestival growth cycle (this plant need plenty of water) But needs to be avoided  wetting the bodies of these plants while they are in sunlight. A wet cactus in the sun light can cause sun burning which can lead to scares or even fungal infections and death.
Needs full sun. Keep dry at 10°C in winter, but can tolerate sporadic light frost.

Photo of conspecific taxa, varieties, forms and cultivars of F. emoryi.

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.