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Item ID: 45
Family: Cactaceae
Genus: Ferocactus
Species: cylindraceus
Common Name: Compass Barrel Cactus, Fire Barrel Cactus, California Barrel, Cliff Barrel
Habitat: This Ferocactus is found in desert soils, sandy gravel areas and very rocky hillsides and mountainous locations.
Range: A rather widespread species that occurs in locations from just west of Tucson, Arizona in Pima county and north in Pinal, Maricopa, Yuma, Yavapai, Mohave and Coconino counties. In California it is found in Imperial, San Diego, San Bernardino and Riverside counties then south into Mexico and Baja California.
Care: This is a very dry weather Ferocactus. It is found growing successfully in areas that get less than 5 inches of rainfall a year. Sometimes this is somewhat forgotten or unknown in cultivation with unfavorable circumstances and neglect may be the safest method for adequate survival. One suggestion would be to choose a smaller plant rather than a larger one and provide adequate drainage as well as a bright sunny location.
Propagation: Propagation is by seed that can usually be found during the late fall months or sometimes even earlier. This is the first Ferocactus species I cultivated from seed over 20 years ago and the plants are still healthy and doing well in 2004.
Size: Plants are cylindrical and somewhat barrel shaped. This species can grow to as tall as about 9 feet or rarely larger. The diameter of the plant can be as much as 14 inches.
Shape: Globular
Flowers: Flowers are yellow sometimes with a slight tint of red along the outer portions.
 Image Not Available
Photo Courtesy of Vonn Watkins 2005

The "Compass Barrel" is a really beautiful species and can be best described as the twisted spine barrel. The spines are closely spaced and the flowers sometimes have difficulty opening fully. The above photo is of a thin, golden spined plant but most will be spined in shades of red along with gray or even a dull white or golden color. This barrel will usually grow slightly toward the south or southwest as is the compass indication.

Author Comments
The name is officially designated as Ferocactus cylindraceus from the previously named Ferocactus acanthodes. Edward Anderson recognized three subspecies or varieties of Ferocactus cylindraceus. Ferocactus cylindraceus ssp. cylindraceus, Ferocactus cylindraceus ssp. lecontei and Ferocactus cylindraceus ssp. tortulispinus. At one time subspecies eastwoodiae was included here but is now recognized as a seperate species.

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