Friday, November 2, 2007

Echinocactus grusonii ~ Golden Barrel

Echinocactus grusonii

If you’ve ever purchased a small, potted cactus in a two-inch container, chances are it was a baby Golden Barrel. Folks are attracted to this cactus because of its symmetrical ribs and the thick golden spines. As it ages, it becomes more barrel-like and even more beautiful. It will eventually produce bright yellow flowers among the wool at the center of the cactus.

The Golden Barrel, alternately called mother-in-law cushion, is a Central Mexico native that does well in USDA zones 9-11. It takes full sun, but is prone to scorching. Younger specimens can’t take frost. When older, this cactus can withstand temperatures into the teens. I have several Golden Barrels that did fine during our record lows of last winter.

It is a slow growing cactus, but it can eventually reach three feet wide and tall, and weigh several hundred pounds. When it is mature, it will sometimes produce offsets. Most folks like to see the Golden Barrel planted in multiples, with enough space allowed for their mature size. I prefer to see them planted near boulders that have been placed on the slopes of large soil mounds.

The Golden Barrel is probably the most frequently used landscape cactus in Arizona, along with the Saguaro, whose blossoms are our State Flower.


Eaglehawk said...

I would sure hate to sit on this one by accident, can you imagine what would happen?

kate said...

I had one of these which I managed to kill by over-watering. It taught me not to water cactus as if they were tropical plants. (Now I tend to kill off my tropical plants from under-watering since most of my collection now is succulent).