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Growing Succulents in the Desert Column

(List of Growing Succulents in the Desert columns)

Ferocactus of the Month
"Ferocactus hystrix and F. Echidne" by Chris Monrad

Photos by Chris Monrad

(This article may only be reprinted with the author's permission.)

Ferocactus hystrix and F. Echidne are two of the late winter / early spring blooming ferocacti, with specimens typically blooming in local cultivation from February into March. Both of these species display smallish yellow flowers and are native to central and eastern-central Mexico some 1000 miles SE of Tucson.

In my experience, these species are readily pollinated by our native desert bees that are up and around this time of year. The fruits of each species are gelatinous and are tricky to collect upon ripening, as they tend to collapse quickly into the plant tissue within the spines once ripened. The spines of F. hystrix (Figs. 1 and 2) are far more dense and long than F. echidne. Given the sparse spination of F. echidne, protection in the form of wire mesh or chicken wire may be necessary to preclude predation by our local varmints and critters. Both species can usually be found locally at several TCSS member nurseries. The local hard frosts of early February appear to have spared my specimens of any apparent damage, although the buds of the F. hystrix were badly damaged. F. echidne has (thankfully) started budding since the freezing weather (Fig. 3).


List of Growing Succulents in the Desert columns