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Plant Information

Scientific Name: Ferrocactus species
Alternative Names: Barrel cactus, Candy barrel cactus

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  • Perennial
  • The 'Fero' in Ferocactus means Fierce and is referring to the spines of the Ferocactus.
  • Ferocactus is native to the deserts of South western United States and North Western Mexico.
  • They are slow-growing and have prominent ribs and are fiercely armed with heavy spines.
  • The young specimen are columnar and as they grow older, the ribs get formed and they start taking the typical barrel shape.
  • Ferocactus flowers can be pink, yellow, red or purple depending on the species and the petals often have a midstripe of a darker color.
  • They need full sun and can tolerate some frost and intense heat.
  • Ferocactus needs little water and excellent drainage.
  • They can be propagated by seeds sown in spring.

Culinary Uses

  • Native Americans boiled the young flowers in water to eat it like cabbage and mashed older boiled flowers for a drink.
  • They also used the cactus as a cooking pot by cutting off the top, scooping out the pulp and inserting hot stones together with food.
  • The pulp of the barrel cactus has been widely used for making cactus candy, but this has lead to its destruction and today it has protected status in many areas.

Other Uses

  • Native Americans used Ferrocactus spines as needles, as awls and in tattooing.
The information contained within this website is for educational purposes only. This site merely recounts the traditional uses of specific plants as recorded through history. Always seek advice from a medical practitioner.

Mountain Herb Estate, and its representatives will not be held responsible for the improper use of any plants or documentation provided. By use of this site and the information contained herein you agree to hold harmless Mountain Herb Estate, its affiliates and staff
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