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Ferocactus stainesii var. pringlei
(Syn: Ferocactus stainesii )

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Ferocactus pringlei

This is one of the most impressive species in this genus. The spines are so thick and are such a vibrant red that large, mature specimens seen in the wild appear totally red.

Description: F. stainesii is a simple or clumping barrel/column cactus with thick red spines. In habitat plants must be a great age, often forming into quite massive groups, with several subsidiary barrels growing from the main one, with deep green bodies densely covered with bright red spines up its entire length. Most plants have bright red spines with bristlelike, white radials—a wonderful contrast, but in some populations the white bristles are occasionally absent. Such variation has led to establishment of several names for this species.
Stem: Columnar deep green up to 2.4(-3) m tall and 30 t0 40 cm in diameter, with several subsidiary barrels growing from the main one.
Ribs: 13-20, compressed, more or less ondulate.
Areoles: Distant to closely set and almost contiguous in older specimens, circular.
Radial spines: Sometime absent or usually reduced to long white or straw coloured hairs on the areoles that appears later with age.
Central spines: Several, subulate-acicular, stright or slightly curved, more or less flattened and angular at first bright red/purplish becoming dull yellow with age, but some populations also boast yellow-spined individuals, and the white bristles are occasionally absent.
Flowers: Yellow to red, about 2,5 cm long, scales on the ovary numerose, orbicular, imbricated, inner perianth segment oblanceolate, obtuse or apiculate.
Fruit: Yellow, somewhat succulent, dehishing by basal pore, 3 to 4 cm long, crowned by persisting perianth.
Seeds:1,5 mm long, brownish, pitted with a small basal hilum.


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

Photo gallery Ferocactus



Family: Cactaceae (Cactus Family) 

Scientific Name:
Ferocactus pringlei (J.M. Coult.) Britton & Rose
In: Cactaceae 3: 125. 1922

Basyonim: Echinocactus stainesii Hooker
In: Audot, Rev. Hort. 6:248.1845.


  • Ferocactus stainesii (Hook.) Britt. & Rose
    In: Cactaceae 3: 124. 1922.
  • Ferocactus piliferus var. stainesii (Salm-Dyck) G. Unger (1986)

  • Ferocactus stainesii v. pringlei (J.M. Coult.) Backeb. (1961)
  • Echinocactus pringlei (J.M. Coult.) Rose (1906)
  • Ferocactus pilosus var. pringlei

Common Names: Mexican Fire Barrel Cactus, Fire Barrel.

Origin:  It is widespread in north central Mexico (Nuevo Leon, San Luis Potosi, Coahuila, Zacatecas) and therefore is somewhat variable

Habitat: It is most often seen on rocky limestone hillsides.

Conservation status: Listed in CITES appendix 2.

NOTE: Two subspecies are recognized:

  • Subsp. 'pilosus' with additional wispy and hairy white spines also known as Ferocactus pilosus. It appears also to have brighter red, bigger and thicker central spines compared to more common variety.

  • Subsp. 'pringlei' with only red acicular spines and none (or very few) hairy white spines.

However this two 'subspecies' look very similar and are linked one to each others by populations of plants with intermediate characteristics. Nowadays both are thought to belong to a unique polymorphic species with some individual covered in fine white hairs, while others do not.



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. Likes bright light, but not too much direct sun. Keep dry at 10°C in winter, but can tolerate sporadic light frost.They need to be moderately large before they flower and our largest seedling plant which is about 20 cm in diameter has yet to oblige.

Reproduction: Seeds are the only way of reproducing.


  • The Mexicans eat it's flowers as a dessert fried with the frying pan with sugar.

  • Accent plant: F. staineisii is a landscape bestsellers as it adds character to monotonous surroundings with little effort. Frequently planted close to the yellow spined Echinocactus grusonii.

Photo of conspecific taxa, varieties, forms and cultivars of  Ferocactus stainesii  characteristics):

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.