Our “The 844 distinct ecoregions that make up the Earth’s bioregions are highlighted in the weekly Species of the Week series.
There is a habitat in Central Mexico with wildly divergent components. Mountains around a flat desert, with little pockets of mountain ranges inside. For any creature to thrive in this climate, which features scorching summers, moderate winters, and less than 500 mm (19 in) of annual precipitation, specific evolutionary adaptations are required. The golden barrel cactus can be seen growing on the sides of volcanic rock. Its pattern of crisscrossing spines, which resembles a perfect spherical sphere, astounds mathematicians and biologists alike.
Echinocactus grusonii is the scientific name for the widely dubbed the “The golden barrel cactus, also known as mother-in-cushion, law’s can reach heights and widths of up to one meter (3 feet). Mature plants develop the sharp spines that are various hues of yellow and have up to 35 prominent ribs. The overlapping spines between each rib, which resemble spikes, shield the cactus from predators. Golden barrels take up to 20 years to fully mature and may not appear symmetrical when they are young.
When the golden barrel cactus reaches maturity, summertime sees the start of its modest, yellow flowering season around the top of its crown. Bees and butterflies, two important pollinators, are drawn to these buds. The fruit inside the blossoms can also be removed by birds native to this area using specialized beaks. Consuming the fruit’s seeds aids in the cactus’ geographic proliferation. The golden barrel cactus has the ability to regenerate. Pups, or fresh offsets, develop in groups from a solid root base.
Golden barrel cactus are considered to be in danger due to human development, which is destroying their ecosystem through agriculture and cattle grazing. Only 6% of their historical range is still intact, with 5% being in protected areas and fewer than 1% outside of them. However, the golden barrel has become fashionable in modern landscape designs due to its rounded shape. Its distribution has now been artificially expanded over much of the Southwest of the United States, making it one of the most popular cacti in cultivation. This gives and has assisted in raising awareness of the species.
Are uncommon golden barrel cacti common?
The golden barrel cactus resembles a globe and is distinguished by its stunning hue, which is caused by vertical yellow ribs that run its edges. The stunning color of the golden barrel cactus’ spines will glimmer across any scene. The Southwest desert’s emblematic cactus is this work of architectural beauty. It’s thought that the golden barrel is a rare and endangered species. It progressively increases to a height of three feet and a width of two feet. In the spring, as the plant reaches maturity, yellow blooms at the top of the shrub are followed by fruit. Combine this eye-catching accent with other desert plants in containers. A powerful statement in the landscape can be made by planting it in clusters, as a mass planting with boulders in rock gardens, or in other ways. The golden barrel cactus can significantly change the landscape’s texture and accent. From San Luis Potosi to Hidalgo, this plant is indigenous to central Mexico.
Golden Barrel, or Echinocactus grusonii ARE YOU SEEKING IMPACT? This is the one that has the most significant impact. Unique features include the remarkable circular form and the vibrant golden tone. This is the most striking landscape plant you can get, inch for inch. It is a head turner without comparison. For Arizona Cactus Sales, this is a staple plant that we provide in sizes ranging from one gallon to twenty diameters. The range of prices is $8 to $400. The mid-sizes, which range from 8 diameters to 13 diameters, contain some of the better deals. Larger plants are definitely more expensive, while smaller ones may be a touch too weak to utilize in a landscape. Golden barrels, unlike many plants, only get prettier with age. They can be genuinely majestic as mature specimens. They often balance out with advancing age, and a few multiples can even occur at small sizes—but at a significant additional expense. Because barrels are so heavy, shipping expenses are much higher than for many other species. Even this additional expense is a great deal given their stunning beauty.
The barrel cactus: Why is it significant?
Several desert species depend on the barrel cactus as a partner in their lives. The plant employs ants to protect it against insect herbivores in addition to receiving pollination from insects and seed dissemination from vertebrates. In order to accomplish this, it creates sugary nectar for the ants to consume.
In Arizona, are barrel cacti protected?
- Arizona’s official flower is the Saquaro, which is protected from extinction by state law, but barrel cacti are not.
- Typically, a Saguaro cactus takes around 70 years to start growing branches (arms).
- The Saguaro is officially known as Carnegiea gigantea. The species has the first name Andrew Carnegie in recognition of the philanthropist and businessman’s considerable contributions to the Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum.
- The Sonoran Desert is home to at least 15 different species of barrel cactus. Many of them are rather short, and some of them almost have a basketball-like shape.
Despite the fact that the Saguaro cactus is a well-known representation of Arizona, many people mistake the Arizona Barrel cactus for a Saguaro that hasn’t yet developed its arms. Although knowing the difference between a Saguaro and an Arizona Barrel cactus won’t make a life or death difference, it might help you enjoy the varied plant life found in Arizona’s Sonoran Desert.
A barrel cactus can it freeze?
A golden barrel is more resistant to cold temperatures the more mass it contains. On a cold night, a huge cactus’ heat takes longer to evaporate. It is known that mature golden barrels can withstand temperatures as low as 14 degrees Fahrenheit, which is lower than the USDA zone 9 average annual extreme minimum temperature of 20 to 25 degrees Fahrenheit. On the other hand, immature plants might suffer cold damage at temperatures around 30 degrees Fahrenheit if their stem diameter is less than 4 inches. Maintain seedlings and tiny plants in containers so you may move them to shelter in the event of below-freezing cold.
What makes cacti so threatened?
According to the first complete, global evaluation of the species group by NatureServe, IUCN, and collaborators, published in the journal Nature Plants, 31% of cactus species are in danger of going extinct. Cacti are now more endangered than animals and birds, making them one of the most threatened taxonomic groups included on The IUCN Red List of Threatened SpeciesTM.
In light of the fact that more than half of the 1,480 cactus species in the world are used by people, the paper claims that cacti are coming under growing pressure from human activities. The primary risks to cacti, impacting 47% of vulnerable species, are their unsustainable harvesting and the illegal trade in live plants and seeds for the horticulture sector and private collections.
IUCN Director General Inger Andersen commented, “These findings are troubling. They affirm that wildlife trafficking affects many more species than the charismatic rhinos and elephants that typically garner global attention. The scale of the illegal wildlife trade, which includes trade in plants, is significantly bigger than we had previously imagined. If we wish to stop the continuing decrease of these species, we must immediately increase international efforts to combat the illegal wildlife trade and boost the execution of the CITES Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species.
Small-scale annual agriculture, which affects 24 percent of threatened species, and small-scale animal ranching, which affects 31 percent of threatened species, are further dangers to cactus. Other significant concerns to these species include residential and commercial development, quarrying, aquaculture—particularly shrimp farming—which invades cacti habitats.
Arid habitats in the New World are fundamentally dependent on cacti for the survival of numerous animal species. They serve as a food and water supply for a variety of animals, such as deer, woodrats, rabbits, coyotes, turkeys, quails, lizards, and tortoises, all of whom contribute to the distribution of cactus seeds in exchange. Hummingbirds, bats, bees, moths, and other insects all receive nectar from cactus flowers, which helps to fertilize the plants.
People frequently employ cactus species in the horticulture industry, as well as for food and medicine. For rural people, their fruit and extremely nourishing stems are a crucial source of sustenance. One Opuntia ficus-indicaa “prickly pear” cactus stem, popularly known as “nopal” in Mexico, has the same nutritional value as a beef steak, and the roots of species like Ariocarpus kotschoubeyanus, which is designated as Near Threatened, are used as anti-inflammatories.
86 percent of vulnerable cacti used in horticulture are acquired from wild populations; trade in cactus species occurs on a national and international scale and is frequently illegal. The bulk of the illegal cactus trade comes from collectors in Europe and Asia. Because they are so rare, wild-collected specimens are in high demand.
According to Barbara Goettsch, principal author of the study and co-chair of the IUCN’s Cactus and Succulent Plant Specialist Group, “The results of this evaluation come as a shock to us. “We did not anticipate that cactus would face such serious threats and that illegal trading would play such a significant role in their deterioration. For local people who depend on wild-harvested fruit and stems, as well as for the diversity and ecology of dry terrain, their removal could have far-reaching effects.
This study emphasizes the need for more effective and long-term management of cactus populations in a variety of countries. These plants can no longer withstand such high levels of collecting and habitat destruction due to the current expansion in the human population.
Due to the majority of cactus species’ inclusion on the CITES appendices since 1975 and the greater accessibility of plants cultivated from seed on the global market, the illegal trade in cacti has been somewhat curbed. However, the threat of collection still exists, particularly in nations where CITES has just recently been put into effect.
For instance, the once-abundant Echinopsis pampana, a native to Peru’s puna desert, has had its population decline by at least 50% over the past 15 years due to illicit collection for the decorative plant trade. The places where the species historically lived have now experienced land use changes for housing, making its demise irreversible. The species is currently considered endangered.
The many different forms and exquisite flowers of cacti are well known. Except for one species, Rhipsalis baccifera, which is also found in southern Africa, Madagascar, and Sri Lanka, they are endemic to arid regions of the New World. Threatened cactus species are particularly prevalent in the dry regions of Brazil, Chile, Mexico, and Uruguay. Even though they are rich in biodiversity, these places are seen as uninteresting and inconsequential, hence arid-land species like cactus are frequently disregarded in conservation planning. In order to better conserve the species, the authors of the research emphasize the need to increase the coverage of dry land protected areas and to spread awareness of the need of sustainable gathering of cacti from the wild.
According to Kevin Gaston from the University of Exeter, who co-led the Global Cactus Assessment, “the stunning results highlight the critical need of funding and conducting evaluations of the vulnerable status of all species in large groups of plants, such as the cacti. Only by doing this will we be able to acquire a comprehensive understanding of what is happening to them at a time when, as shown by the cactus, they may be facing tremendous human pressure.
According to Mary Klein, President of NatureServe, “cacti are exceptional plants that concentrate water and nutrients required by natural and human societies, in some of the world’s most difficult conditions.
This study indicates that cactus are particularly susceptible, but it also shows that we can preserve these natural wonders for the future by paying close attention to removing dangers like illicit extraction.
A golden barrel cactus’ lifespan is how long?
by its long hooked spines, thick (2 foot diameter), barrel-shaped body, and thick skin. The top of the plant is always where the yellow/red flowers and yellow fruit are produced.
Along gravelly bajadas and arid washes, fishhook barrel cacti can be found. On rocky slopes or valley floors, it is less likely to happen.
Both northern Sonora, Mexico, and south-central Arizona are home to this particular type of barrel cactus. In western Texas and southern New Mexico, there are isolated populations.
can heighten to 6 to 10 feet. It can grow to be 18 to 30 inches in diameter or larger.
- Because some of the larger plants of the Fishhook Barrel Cactus slant toward the southwest, it is frequently referred to as the “Compass Barrel”.
- Water is present in this cactus, however it contains oxalic acid and may result in diarrhea if consumed while the stomach is empty.
How much time does a golden barrel cactus require to grow?
You’ve probably seen golden barrel cacti in succulent gardens that have been expertly created, but you’ve been hesitant to include them in your own. Here’s why you should and some advice on how to keep the plants content. First, though, some assurance: Although it is spiky, the spines are downward curving. Its benefits, in my opinion, exceed any drawbacks.
Elisabeth Crouch, a neighbor of mine, explains how to hold a barrel cactus: Put on strong gardening gloves, grab the plant by the roots, and protect it with a folded newspaper.
- Texture. When seen up close, they resemble fuzzy balls. Close up, they appear prickly. They make an interesting contrast to the neighboring foliage in any case.
- Shape. No other plants in your garden are round, I wager. Cacti with a ball-like shape look best in clusters or S-curves.
- Interest. The focal point is a single barrel. There are several that suggest rolling landscape.
- Color. Their bright yellow contrasts with and mimics that of other succulents and shrubs.
- Light. Transparent spines sparkle when backlit by early morning or late afternoon sun.
A backyard is illuminated by golden barrels and silver swords (Cleistocactus strausii). Examine the image closely while imagining it without them. Looks like not much, does it not?
Why a Succulent Garden Needs Golden Barrels is explained in my video (1:35) Why Jeanne Meadow is happy that her landscape architect persuaded her to buy golden barrels is explained. She now has over 30 in her renowned succulent garden in Southern California.
About golden barrel cactus
In the state of Hidalgo in Mexico, Echinocactus grusonii naturally grows at a height of 4600 feet on steep, volcanic hillsides. Due to habitat destruction from the construction of a reservoir and overharvesting, it is rare and endangered.
Barrels slant toward the brightest light. Older examples, which eventually turn cylindrical, are where this is most obvious. The plant’s slender green skin is shielded and protected by its ribs and spines. By the way, other rotund genera, mainly Ferocactus, are included in the phrase “barrel cactus.”
The Huntington Botanical Gardens’ barrels have a slight slant to the southwest. More than 500 golden barrel cactus specimens can be found all across the garden, according to curator Gary Lyons’ book Desert Plants of the Huntington Botanical Garden. The biggest examples were raised from seeds in the early 1920s and planted in 1929, according to this statement.
Barrels mature after around 30 years and grow to be 3-1/2 feet in diameter with 35 ribs. Of course, clusters will take up more room. Due to their advanced age (50+ years), the specimens in the Huntington Botanical Gardens are enormous.
Watch my video to learn how old the barrel cactus is. (2:03) I take seeds from a specimen that is 35 years old to demonstrate how the plants change with time.
At a rate of roughly one inch every year, it will take at least 14 years for a golden barrel to flower, which typically happens when they are about 14 inches across. The plant’s woolly crown is surrounded by a whorl of satiny yellow blooms in the spring.
Fruit embedded in the wool is hidden by crisp, dry petals. Fruit dries into seed pods that can be removed with little effort. Cottony tufts stick to them when taken out.
How to grow golden barrels
The southern and coastal California from the Bay Area south, northern Mexico, and (with some shade) Arizona, New Mexico, and southern Texas are all suitable habitats for the plants.
Provide full sun in all climates besides those in deserts. The gold spines get darker the more sun there is. Give a barrel the same orientation to the sun that it had before transplanting it, or otherwise its skin may burn (mark the pot).
Golden barrels can handle temperatures as low as 15 F for short periods of time, but they prefer normal minimum temperatures in the low 50s F.
Location: Avoid planting any cacti near stairs, walkways, or locations where kids or dogs like to play. Barrels should be placed on a slight inclination to improve drainage, but not one that is so steep that their weight could force them to fall. positioned lower with thirstier plants on a mound of soil. Avoid planting near trees since leaf litter might be challenging to clear.
In advance: Once planted, it’s preferable if golden barrels don’t move. A specimen weights well over 100 lbs. when it is 2 feet broad.
Water: During the hot, dry summer months, barrels enjoy the occasional deep bath similar to many cacti. They can subsist on stored moisture without it, but it helps them grow more quickly. Using drip irrigation or a hose, water the ground up.
Use a coarse, quick-draining soil mixture with 20 to 40 percent organic compost and 80 to 60 percent broken lava rock or decomposed granite sand.
He will lift and support the plant with one hand while stabilizing it with the other by using the hose he has wrapped around it.
Digging and transplanting: To avoid breaking the plant’s spines, raise the plant’s shallow roots with a shovel before lassoing and carrying it with an old, supple garden hose. Secure the plant gently on top of a small basin at its new placement. Wait two weeks before watering a brand-new barrel. Because they are brittle and susceptible to being broken by the weight of the plant, roots need time to recover.
Troubleshooting: Barrels may rot if they become damp and cold. Don’t grow one where water collects from the roof. [Watch my video at 2:02 to learn why succulents rot and how to prevent it.] Pests rarely affect barrels, but gophers occasionally consume the entire plant up to the core.
To get rid of weeds, use long tweezers. [Watch my video at 2:59 to learn how to weed a spicy succulent.] Apply a safe pre-emergent herbicide to the ground surrounding the plants before the winter rains to stop weed seeds from sprouting.
Propagation by offsets
A 3 or 4 inch long nail heated over a flame and pushed into a growth point (where spines sprout) until it was half its length and then removed will encourage a barrel cactus to produce offsets. or core the plant with a power drill. [Watch my video, Succulent Propagation via Coring (4:01), to see how it’s done.]
This barrel cactus produced offsets after a gopher ate through its center, stimulating offset growth.
Take hold of the offset with rubber-tipped tongs and turn it slowly to remove it. Wait a few days until the raw end is dry and hard, then nestle the baby plant in coarse, well-draining soil.
Where to buy golden barrels
Golden barrels are available in one-gallon pots and larger at several succulent nurseries in Southern California, or you can order them. Purchase smaller specimens online at Mountain Crest Gardens and Amazon.com.
Golden barrels in gardens and landscapes
Before planting, decide on the aesthetic you want because barrels are dramatic and catch the attention. To give a landscape design continuity, repeat them. Avoid aligning or lining up the barrels in rows for a more natural appearance. On the other hand, it can be eye-catching to purposefully arrange them in a pattern.
Barrels can be surrounded by rocks for a contemporary, minimalist look. It’s acceptable to pair them with soft-leaved succulents, but keep in mind that plants in the flowery style are only meant to be ephemeral. Long after the sedum, echeverias, or senecios have gotten old, overgrown, and need to be replaced, the barrels will still be there.