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California Barrel Cactus (Ferocactus cylindraceus)
Cactus Around Las Vegas, Vegetation Around Las Vegas
California Barrel Cactus (Ferocactus cylindraceus)
Three sentinels watching over Red Rock Canyon NCA).

General: California Barrel Cactus (Ferocactus cylindraceus) are large, round, barrel-shaped cactus with ribs (flutes) running from bottom to top. Barrel cactus start out short and wide (globular), then grow to about 5-ft tall and 16 inches in diameter. The plants are covered with relatively long, stout, flattened spines. The spines are erect and spreading, the longest are recurved, and they have some red color. Yellow flowers form a ring around the top of the stem. Barrels are generally uncommon cactus of rocky hillsides, but they can be locally common.

Barrel cactus most often occur in rocky places and cliffs in the Upper Sonoran (Mojave Desert Scrub and Pinyon-Juniper Woodland) life zone, although they can be found on bajadas below cliffy areas. One of the best places to see Barrel Cactus around Las Vegas is on Fossil Hill at Red Rock Canyon NCA.

California Barrel Cactus (Ferocactus cylindraceus)
Barrel cactus spines

Family: Cactus (Cactaceae).

Other Names: Compass cactus, barrelcactus.

Plant Form: Single, stout, upright stem. Young plants are globular (short and wide).

Height: To 5-ft tall and 16 inches in diameter.

California Barrel Cactus (Ferocactus cylindraceus)
Flowers form in a ring around the top of the stem

Trunk: None.

Stem: Single, unbranched.

Stem Surface: Fluted (ribs) running from bottom to top, otherwise smooth.

Spines: Long, stout, flattened, curving, and reddish.

California Barrel Cactus (Ferocactus cylindraceus)
Flower and two buds

Glochids: None.

Flowers: Blooms in late spring and early summer. Inflorescence: single flowers near the top of the stem, forming a ring around the top. Flowers: all parts yellow, about 1-1/2 inches diameter.

Fruit: Fleshy yellow fruit that dries to brown.

Seeds: Black, many contained in each fruit.

California Barrel Cactus (Ferocactus cylindraceus) fruit
Dried barrel cactus fruit

Habitat: Most common in rocky areas and on cliffs, also found on bajadas.

Distribution: California to Utah, and south into Mexico.

Elevation: To about 4,500 ft.

Comments: Desert rodents and birds eat the fruits.

People often think that they can hack into a barrel cactus and get good drinking water. This is not true. While there is moisture inside the cactus, the effort needed to hack in and get the bitter liquid is not worth it.

California barrel cactus (Ferocactus cylindraceus)
South McCullough Wilderness Area
California barrel cactus (Ferocactus cylindraceus)
South McCullough Wilderness Area
California barrel cactus (Ferocactus cylindraceus)
South McCullough Wilderness Area
California barrel cactus (Ferocactus cylindraceus)
South McCullough Wilderness Area
California barrel cactus (Ferocactus cylindraceus)
South McCullough Wilderness Area
California barrel cactus (Ferocactus cylindraceus)
South McCullough Wilderness Area
California barrel cactus (Ferocactus cylindraceus)
Tall and short barrel cactus
California Barrel Cactus (Ferocactus cylindraceus)
This unusual barrel cactus looks like a Cottontop Cactus
California Barrel Cactus (Ferocactus cylindraceus)
Five-foot tall specimen (Mojave National Preserve)
California Barrel Cactus (Ferocactus cylindraceus)
Barrel cactus on limestone outcrop overlooking Red Rock Canyon NCA
California Barrel Cactus (Ferocactus cylindraceus)
Typical habitat (Arrow Canyon Wilderness Area)
California barrel cactus (Ferocactus cylindraceus)
Barrel Cactus and Strawberry Hedgehog at Lake Mead NRA
California Barrel Cactus (Ferocactus cylindraceus)
Typical habitat (South McCullough Wilderness Area).
California Barrel Cactus (Ferocactus cylindraceus)
Barrel cactus and Mojave Yucca overlooking Red Rock Canyon NCA
California Barrel Cactus (Ferocactus cylindraceus)
Young plant (South McCullough Wilderness Area).
California Barrel Cactus (Ferocactus cylindraceus)
The spines are red, flattened, and grow on the ridges
California Barrel Cactus (Ferocactus cylindraceus)
Flowers
California Barrel Cactus (Ferocactus cylindraceus)
Dry fruits atop a cactus
California Barrel Cactus (Ferocactus cylindraceus)
Dry fruits atop a cactus
California Barrel Cactus (Ferocactus cylindraceus)
Individual dry fruit, perhaps pulled out by a rodent (top to the left)
California barrel cactus (Ferocactus cylindraceus)
Recovering fire-damaged barrel cactus
California barrel cactus (Ferocactus cylindraceus)
Recovering fire-damaged barrel cactus
California Barrel Cactus (Ferocactus cylindraceus)
Recovering fire-damaged barrel cactus
California Barrel Cactus (Ferocactus cylindraceus)
Recovering fire-damaged barrel cactus
California barrel cactus (Ferocactus cylindraceus)
Recovering fire-damaged barrel cactus
California barrel cactus (Ferocactus cylindraceus)
Young barrel cactus
California barrel cactus (Ferocactus cylindraceus)
Small barrel cactus in Gold Butte National Monument
California barrel cactus (Ferocactus cylindraceus)
California barrel cactus with pups in Gold Butte National Monument
California barrel cactus (Ferocactus cylindraceus)
California barrel cactus habitat in Gold Butte National Monument
California barrel cactus (Ferocactus cylindraceus)
California barrel cactus family in Gold Butte National Monument

Note: All distances, elevations, and other facts are approximate. Names generally follow the USDA database.
copyright; Last updated 170919

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