Ferocactus cylindraceus

Thanks to Ruth for both today’s write-up and photograph:

Normally, television imitates life. It polishes the edges of life’s reality and makes it seem more glamorous. Well, here is an example of life imitating television, edges and all! I call this the “Homer Cactus” after Homer Simpson. I found this beauty in the Anza-Borrego desert in southern California while hiking with a group of friends. We had a great laugh!

The red barrel cactus, Ferocactus cylindraceus, is found in Arizona, California and northern Mexico at elevations of 600-1500 meters (2000-5000 feet). It is found growing amongst phenomenal species such as Joshua trees (Yucca brevifolia) in the Mojave desert and amongst the Fouquieria splendens (ocotillo) in the Anza-Borrego and Ocotillo Wells deserts. This species of barrel cactus can tolerate temperatures as low as -7 ºC (20 ºF). Deserts of southwestern USA and northern Mexico often receive massive flash floods and extreme heat. Ferocactus tend to grow slightly tilted toward the south, because of the additional sun exposure. If you are ever lost in the desert without a compass, remember to look for this feature to find south.

Ferocactus cylindraceus can reach a height of 2.5 meters (8 feet) with a width of up to 30 cm (12 inches). Blooms found on the top of the cylinder, like a hat, are yellow, red or orange. In general, spring is the best time to view wildflowers in the desert, but these cactuses bloom a bit later in July and late summer.

For more information, read the Flora of North America account for Ferocactus cylindraceus. Additional photographs are available from Calphotos: Ferocactus cylindraceus.

Ferocactus cylindraceus

6 responses to “Ferocactus cylindraceus”

  1. Doug

    For those outside of the USA (or that don’t follow popular culture) here is a picture of Homer Simpson for reference:

  2. Sue in Bremerton WA

    Re: Homer. I’ve never heard of an individual plant with a human name, even if it is named after a cartoon character. This is a FIRST in my book.
    Re: Finding south by Cactus leans. I’ve lived in the Pacific Northwest for nearly all my life. This too is a FIRST in my book. I did learn, however to not trust the moss being on the north side of a tree. It’s just too wet in our forests for the most part.
    Thanks for the information, and the entertainment too.

  3. Kalles


  4. Lisa Lov

    Super cool Ruthie! I was probably in that photo huh? Cropped out!

  5. Margaret-Rae Davis

    My son who went to California to College stayed and has live there for close to 30yrs,
    My younger son went to visit and they all when to Joshua tree. This was before digtal cameras. He took many photographs and I reconized these. He knew I really liked catus and now I am learning so much from you. I thank you for todays information and photograph. I live in Massachusetts.
    Thank you,

  6. elizabeth a airhart

    this is interesting

Leave a Reply