Photo by Melody

PlantFiles: California Barrel Cactus, Compass Barrel Cactus
Ferocactus cylindraceus

Family: Cactaceae (kak-TAY-see-ee) (Info)
Genus: Ferocactus (fer-oh-KAK-tus) (Info)
Species: cylindraceus (sil-in-DRAK-ee-us) (Info)

Synonym:Echinocactus acanthodes
Synonym:Echinocactus cylindraceus
Synonym:Echinocactus leopoldii
Synonym:Echinocactus rostii
Synonym:Ferocactus acanthodes

Cactus and Succulents

36-48 in. (90-120 cm)
4-6 ft. (1.2-1.8 m)
6-8 ft. (1.8-2.4 m)

24-36 in. (60-90 cm)
36-48 in. (90-120 cm)

USDA Zone 9a: to -6.6 C (20 F)
USDA Zone 9b: to -3.8 C (25 F)
USDA Zone 10a: to -1.1 C (30 F)
USDA Zone 10b: to 1.7 C (35 F)
USDA Zone 11: above 4.5 C (40 F)

Sun Exposure:
Full Sun

Plant has spines or sharp edges; use extreme caution when handling

Bloom Color:
Pale Yellow
Bright Yellow

Bloom Time:
Late Summer/Early Fall


Other details:
Drought-tolerant; suitable for xeriscaping
This plant is resistant to deer

Soil pH requirements:
6.1 to 6.5 (mildly acidic)
6.6 to 7.5 (neutral)
7.6 to 7.8 (mildly alkaline)

Patent Information:

Propagation Methods:
From seed; direct sow after last frost

Seed Collecting:
Allow unblemished fruit to ripen; clean and dry seeds
Unblemished fruit must be significantly overripe before harvesting seed; clean and dry seeds
Properly cleaned, seed can be successfully stored

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By palmbob
Thumbnail #1 of Ferocactus cylindraceus by palmbob

By Xenomorf
Thumbnail #2 of Ferocactus cylindraceus by Xenomorf

By Xenomorf
Thumbnail #3 of Ferocactus cylindraceus by Xenomorf

By palmbob
Thumbnail #4 of Ferocactus cylindraceus by palmbob

By cacti_lover
Thumbnail #5 of Ferocactus cylindraceus by cacti_lover

By Xenomorf
Thumbnail #6 of Ferocactus cylindraceus by Xenomorf

By frostweed
Thumbnail #7 of Ferocactus cylindraceus by frostweed

There are a total of 37 photos.
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2 positives
2 neutrals
No negatives

Gardeners' Notes:

Neutral DaylilySLP On Oct 16, 2013, DaylilySLP from Dearborn Heights, MI (Zone 6a) wrote:

Not confusing enough?:
Echinocactus acanthodes
Echinocactus cylindraceus
Echinocactus johnstonianus
Echinocactus leopoldii
Echinocactus rostii

**these no room for above:

MORE Synonyms:
Ferocactus cylindraceus
Ferocactus johnstonianus
Ferocactus rostii
Echinocactus acanthodes var. rostii
Echinocactus viridescens var. cylindraceus
Ferocactus acanthodes var. johnstonianus
Ferocactus acanthodes var. rostii
Ferocactus cylindraceus var. greenwoodiae

Neutral Xenomorf On Apr 12, 2005, Xenomorf from Valley of the Sun, AZ (Zone 9b) wrote:

The International Cactaceae Systematics Group (ICSG) lists in the 2001 book, 'The Cactus Family' by Anderson, that Ferocactus acanthodes to be a synonym of Ferocactus cylindraceus.
Other common names are: Biznaga, California Barrel Cactus, Cliff Barrel Cactus, Compass Cactus, Desert Barrel Cactus, Golden-spined Barrel Cactus & Spiney Barrel Cactus.
The flowers on all subspecies are yellow occasionally with a red tint.
The subspecies 'cylindraceus' can grow up to 10 ft tall. The spines are yellow, red & brown & twisted, some more than others.
The subspecies 'lecontei' has central spines that are not twisted and Never hooked which often lay closer to the body.
The subspecies 'tortulispinus' is much shorter and the gray spines are twisted.

I've seen this growing in the wild in the Phoenix surrounding desert, and on the 'El Camino Del Diablo Trail' (Devils' Highway) that runs between Ajo and Wellton in Arizona in the Cabeza Prieta National Wildlife Refuge.

Positive cacti_lover On Apr 9, 2005, cacti_lover from Henderson, NV (Zone 9b) wrote:

This cactus is now under the new name Ferocactus cylindraceus and can still be found under F. acanthodes. Can be 15" across and up to 6' tall. Tend to lean south as it ages hence the common name 'compass barrel'. Another common name is 'fire barrel' due to it's red spines, which actually ranges from tan to bright red in color. Grown wild here in southern Nevada. It is a protected plant and it is illegal to obtain wild plants without permits.

Positive palmbob On Feb 24, 2004, palmbob from Acton, CA (Zone 8b) wrote:

Very pretty cactus as youngster- lots of color in the spines. Eventually (in maybe a hundred years or so) grows up to 8' tall. Native of most western states. Needs full sun and careful not to overwater. Can rot easily. This species is highly variable and has numerous synonyms, as mentioned below.


This plant has been said to grow in the following regions:

Ajo, Arizona
Green Valley, Arizona
Phoenix, Arizona
Queen Creek, Arizona
Salome, Arizona
Bostonia, California
Hesperia, California
Ontario, California
Reseda, California
Ridgecrest, California
San Marino, California
Henderson, Nevada

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