Ferocactus latispinus-Fish Hook Cactus, etc.


Ferocactus latispinus on 2-1-16.

Devil’s Tongue Barrel, Crow’s Claw, Fish Hook Cactus
Ferocactus latispinus
fer-oh-KAK-tus  la-TYE-spin-uss
Ferocactus recurvus
fer-oh-KAK-tus  re-KUR-vus

I bought this cactus from Wal-Mart on 2-1-16 along with several others.   The label said, Ferocactus latispinus is a barrel cactus with a flattened globular shape. Flowers are violet or yellow, usually appearing in late October or November. Water thoroughly when soil is dry to the touch. Protect from frost. Provide bright light/sun. Hardy to 20 degrees F. To 12” tall.” It nearly filled the 2 1/2” pot (4 oz.) and measured approximately 1 1/2” tall x 2 1/4” wide.

Ferocactus latispinus Britton & Rose is the correct and accepted scientific name for this species of Ferocactus. It was first named and described by Nathanial Lord Britton and Joseph Nelson Rose in Cactaceae in 1922.

I was using the The Plant List when I first did my research for this cactus, not realizing it had not been maintained since 2013. It said Ferocactus latispinus was a synonym of Ferocactus recurvus (Mill.) Borg. Dave’s Garden, the Llifle website and the CactusGuide by Daiv Freeman all say that Ferocactus recurvus was (and still is) a synonym of Ferocactus latispinus subsp. spiralis. The “new” Plants of the World Online, started and maintained by Kew Gardens, does not list Ferocactus latispinus. It does list Ferocactus recurvus, however when I clicked on it, it says it is a synonym. A synonym of what? A species not listed? They are just getting started and uploading data and hope to have that process completed by 2020.

The genus Ferocactus was named by Nathaniel Lord Britton and Joseph Nelson Rose and first described in The Cactaceae in 1922. It contains 24 accepted species and another 12 accepted infraspecific names. There 131 species that are synonyms plus another 127 infraspecific names. There are a total of 44 still unresolved.

There are other genera of cactus with this same shape, though, and can get quite confusing at times. They were once nicknamed “the Traveler’s Friend” because these living barrels were reservoirs for fresh drinking water in the hot deserts. Of course, it is not recommended that you tap into one of these for water because in reality the water is to alkaline and would worsen dehydration. SO, if you are ever in the desert, try drinking the water from the Prickly Pear (Opuntia species) instead. The Ferocactus are native to the Southwestern United States and much of Mexico.

One of the common names, Fish Hook Cactus, is also a name applied to cacti in other genera.

When I first bought this cactus on 2-1-16, along with, ummm, 13 others I think, I didn’t have a camera. SO, I had to use the Photo Booth on my iMac. I really liked this cactus, it seemed artificial in a way. Unfortunately, it didn’t last long that’s why there are no other photos… I have not found another since.

I hope you find this information on this page useful. If you have any comments about this cactus, I would love to hear them.

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