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  Hamatocactus setispinus
(Syn: Thelocactus setispinus)

Cultivation and Mail Sale
of Cacti and Succulents.

Photo and © copyright by Andrea B. (Bologna, Italy)
A succession of large silky yellow flowers in summer.

Description: Habit: H. setispinus is a typically solitary cactus that sometime will offsets from it’s base. This species produces a lot of fragrant yellow, orange-eyed flowers at the top of the stem. An attractive blooming machine.
Globular to cylindrical, yellow-green to dark bluish green of flabby texture like Echinocereus, up to 15 cm tall, 10 cm in diameter; distinctly ribbed.
About 13 high and 1-2 mm wide, very evident, thin, wavy on the margin, straight or more or less spiralled.
Roots: Long fibrous.
Areoles : ± circular, 5-8(-14) mm long, 2-7 mm wide, 15 mm apart, with short wool and finally naked: Areoles typically bear extrafloral nectaries.
Spines: Both radials and centrals, white or yellowish and brown radials 12 to 16 (10-30 mm long), central 1 to 3 one of them usually hooked, longer than the radials, 6 to 40 mm long (or more). Tubercles absent.
Flower: Silky yellow with orange to darker red throat , 3 - 7 cm across, 3,8 - 5,2(7) cm long. Inner perianth segments oblong, acute, widely spreading. Flowers-bud pointed, covered with imbricated naked scales (whithout wool or bristles in the axil). Flower-tube narrow, funnelform.
Fruit: Red and fleshy, nearly naked, globular to ovate, 8-11 mm long, that dry and fracture basally at full maturity.
Seeds: 1,3-1,7 mm long and 0,5 -0,8 mm diameter, black tuberculate, hilum large basal, circular.
Phenology: Summer grower.
Blossoming time: It flowers very well, even when quite young, producing lots flowers in succession all Summer.

In the past several forms with different spine and stem size, flowers and fruit colour have been described and some authors gave them a variety  name, however they grows at the same locality and under the same condition, so nowadays all them are considered part of a polymorphic species. For example:

H. setispinus hamatus With long hooked central spines.
H. setispinus hamatus fa. flavibaccatus whith yellow fruits.
H. setispinus setaceus With very thin spines.
H. setispinus brevispinus With very short central spines.

Fruits with persisting flowers remnants.

Buds and floral tube are scaly.

Cultivation: This species is easy and well worth growing, wonderful when grown in containers as a patio plant in colder climates. Require little care once they have reached a nice flowering size H. setispinus is suited for any rich, well drained soil in full sun throughout the year (But do better with some light shade in summer). Pot culture: grow best in a well-drained container filled with a porous cactus soil mixture that doesn't contain too much humus. To insure robust plants water and fertilize during the aestival growth cycle, this plant need plenty of water (indicatively to about once a week) 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 scars or even fungal infections and death. Care must be taken to prevent sooty mould forming on the sugary secretions from near the areoles.
Frost Tolerance:
n winter keep completely dry at 5°C this usually aids in maintaining a healthier plant, but it is hardy as less as -12 to -7°C depending on the origin. (Temperature Zone: USDA

Reproduction: Seeds or cutting. Seeds are the typical way of reproducing. These cacti will easily grow from seeds and some from cuttings. Seeds can be sown in the spring or summer in well-drained pots of cactus soil; sow the seeds thinly on top. Cover them with a bit of fine quartz grit. Moisten and lay a piece of glass across the top. The pots should be set in a warm greenhouse until they start to sprout, after which the glass should be progressively removed so they can receive full light and air.  It isn't good to keep the glass over the seedlings. Well-developed seedlings can be planted separately in small pots.
Cuttings made from pieces of the stem of any size can be detached and laid aside for a few days, to allow a protective "skin" to form over the cut. They can then be planted in pots. Place them in a spot where they'll receive sun, and do not water until the soil becomes fairly dry. After a while the soil should be moistened regularly, but never kept constantly saturated.

Photo of conspecific taxa, varieties, forms and cultivars of Hamatocactus setispinus:



Family: Cactaceae (Cactus Family)

Accepted Scientific Name: Hamatocactus setispinus (Engel.) Brit. & Rose
Published in:  Britton & Rose, The Cactaceae; descriptions and illustrations of plants of the cactus family 3: 104-106, f. 110, 111, 112, 113, 114, 1922

Conservation status: Listed in CITES Appendix II

Distribution: USA (Southern-Texas) and Northern Mexico (Taumaulipas ; Nuevo Leon, Coahuila)

Habitat: It is often found growing under Mesquite scrubs on costal lowlands. Altitude 0 – 550 m

Etymology: The genus name " Hamatocactus" derives from the Latin word “Hamatus” meaning “fish-hook” to describe its central spines furnished of a terminal hook and the word "cactus", the genus from which this segregate was removed. ( The genus name implies: "hooked cactus").
The species name "setispinus" Derives from the Latin name “seta” meaning “bristle” or “stiff hair of an animal” + “i” (connective vowel used by botanical Latin) + “spina” meaning “thorn, prickle, spine” + “us” (latinizing suffix) ( The specific name implies:
" bristle-like spines ").


  • Echinocactus setispinus hamatus (Muehlenpf.)Engelmann
    In: Bost. Journ. Nat. Hist. 6: 201. 1850 
  • Thelocactus setispinus (Engelm.) E.F.Anderson
  • Ferocactus setispinus (Engelmann) L.D.Benson (1969)
  • Echinocactus setispinus Engelmann
    In: Bost. Journal. Nat. Hist. 5:246. 1845
  • Echinocactus setispinus setaceus Engelmann
    In: Bost. Journal. Nat. Hist. 6:201. 1850
  • Echinocactus muehlenpfordtii Fennel
    In: Allg.Gartenz. 15:65. 1847
  • Echinocactus hamatus Mühlenpfordt
    In: In: Allg.Gartenz. 16:18. 1848 Not Forbes 1837
  • Echinocactus setispinus cachetianus Labouret
    In: Monogr. Cact. 203. 1853.
  • Echinocactus setispinus v. mierensis K. Schum. (1898)
  • Echinocactus setispinus v. setaceus Engelm. (1850)
  • Echinocactus hamulosus Regel
    In: Ind. Sem. Hort. Petrop. 34. 1856
  • Echinopsis nodosa Linke
    In: Wochenschr. Garten. Pflanz. 1:85. 1858
  • Echinocactus nodosus Hemsley
    In: Biol. Center. Ameri. Bot. 1:535. 1880
  • Echinocactus setispinus muehlenpfordtii Coulter
    In: Contr. U.S. Nat. Herb. 3:370. 1896
  • Echinocactus setispinus mierensis Schumann
    In: Gesamtb. Kakteen 340. 1898
  • Echinocactus setispinus orcuttii Schumann
    In: Gesamtb. Kakteen 340. 1898
  • Thelocactus setispinus v. mierensis (K. Schum.) Pilbeam (1996)




This plant, like the Ferocacti (within which genera some botanists place this plant, whilst some others prefer Thelocactus), has  areolar glands that produce nectar

The satiny yellow flowers have a contrasting red throats.

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

Photo gallery HAMATOCACTUS

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.