Echinocactus is a genus of cacti in the subfamily Cactoideae.[1] The generic name derives from the Ancient Greek εχινος (echinos), meaning "spiny," and cactus. It and Ferocactus are the two genera of barrel cactus. Members of the genus usually have heavy spination and relatively small flowers. The fruits are copiously woolly, and this is one major distinction between Echinocactus and Ferocactus. Propagation is by seed.

Golden Barrel cactus, Huntington Desert Garden.jpg
Echinocactus grusonii
Scientific classification

Type species
Echinocactus platyacanthus

See text


Brittonrosea Speg.
Echinofossulocactus Lawr.
Homalocephala Britton & Rose[1]

Perhaps the best known species is the golden barrel (Echinocactus grusonii) from Mexico, an easy-to-grow and widely cultivated plant. Though common in the houseplant and landscape industry, the golden barrel has become very rare in habitat.


As of 2020, the genus includes 6 accepted species out of hundreds of plants having the name.[2]

Image Scientific name Common Name Distribution
  Echinocactus grusonii Hildm. Golden Barrel Cactus Querétaro, and in the state of Hidalgo, Mexico
  Echinocactus horizonthalonius Lem. Devil's Head, Silverbell Cactus, Turk's Head CactusGolden Barrel Cactus southwestern United States and northern Mexico
  Echinocactus parryi Engelm., 1856 horse crippler or devil's pincushion Mexican state of Chihuahua
  Echinocactus platyacanthus Link & Otto Giant Barrel Cactus Mexico in the Chihuahuan Desert
  Echinocactus polycephalus Engelm. & J.M.Bigelow Cottontop Cactus Mojave Desert region of Arizona, California, and Nevada, and northern Sonora, Mexico.
  Echinocactus texensis Hopffer Horse Crippler, Devil's Pincushion[3][4] United States and Mexico.

Formerly placed hereEdit


  1. ^ a b c "Genus: Echinocactus Link & Otto". Germplasm Resources Information Network. United States Department of Agriculture. 2004-02-13. Archived from the original on 2012-10-09. Retrieved 2010-11-13.
  2. ^ "Echinocactus". The Plant List. Missouri Botanical Garden. Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew.CS1 maint: others (link)
  3. ^ a b "GRIN Species Records of Echinocactus". Germplasm Resources Information Network. United States Department of Agriculture. Archived from the original on 2012-12-12. Retrieved 2010-11-13.
  4. ^ "Echinocactus". Integrated Taxonomic Information System. Retrieved 2010-11-13.
  • Innes C, Wall B (1995). Cacti, Succulents and Bromeliads. Cassell & The Royal Horticultural Society.

External linksEdit