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  Ferocactus acanthodes var. acanthodes
(syn: Ferocactus cylindraceus ssp. cylindraceus)

Cultivation and Mail Sale
of Cacti and Succulents.

F. acanthodes grows slowly
, forming in age a  mound of thorns and then a narrow column up to 2m tall,  with attractive curved spines that partly obscure the green stem. The spine colour is red but also yellow or pale grey.

Description: The plant is usually unbranched, forming a single column up to 2 (3) m tall and 30cm in diameter. The ribs are 2.5cm high and tuberculate. This species is highly variable and has numerous synonyms.
Spines: A large central spine and three auxiliary centrals form a crucifix shape, The primary central is 7-15 , angles down and is slightly to moderately hooked, sometimes to 90 degrees. The other centrals are from 5 to 7.5 cm long. The centrals are noticeably ring ridged and flattened, with a flat upper surface and rounded lower surface. Spines can be very light grey to red and yellow, but darken to black with age.
Yellow flowers tinged with red appear in May and June at the crown of the plant, 4 to 6cm. The fruit with scales is fleshy, yellow or yellowish green 5cm long, 2.5cm in diameter.

The flowers on all subspecies are yellow
, occasionally with a red tint.






Family: Cactaceae (Cactus Family)

Ferocactus acanthodes

Scientific name: Ferocactus cylindraceus subsp. cylindraceus


  • Echinocactus cylindraceus
  • Echinocactus viridescens var. cylindraceus
  • Echinocactus acanthodes
  • Ferocactus acanthodes

Common English Names include:  'Desert barrel cactus', 'Compass barrel cactus' (It leans south as it ages hence the common name). Another name is 'fire barrel' due to it's red spines.

OriginThe various variety of F. acanthodes ( = cylindraceus) are spread across central and western Arizona, southeastern California and southwards into Baja California and Sonora, Mexico

Habitat: This cactus is locally abundant in arid gravelly or rocky foothills, canyon walls, fans and wash margins at 600 to 1250m elevation among creosote bush scrub, it also utilizes slopes and Acid Igneous rock lands. The species is limited in its northwards range by frost conditions. To reduce the damage by frost the plant is found on south facing slopes and it leans to the south to protect the sensitive growing tip by placing it for best exposure to the sun .

Photo & © copyright by Jürgen Menzel
A ferocactus acanthodes with a crested branch.


The dense shading of the growing tip by spines, fruit, flowers remnants and pubescence allow this species a further northward range and higher elevations than F. wislizenii or F. Covillei.

Cultivation: They are summer-growing and pretty easy plants thought slow to start. 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 them 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. This plants need a period of cool rest in winter to produce flowers abundantly.
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 only 15-18 cm.

Propagation: Seeds are the only way of reproducing.

Seed Collecting: Permit fruit to ripen.  Fruit must be significantly overripe before harvesting seed; clean and dry seeds


Photo of conspecific taxa, varieties, forms and cultivars of Ferocactus cylindraceus:

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

Photo gallery Ferocactus



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.