Ferocactus wislizeni-Arizona Barrel, Candy Barrel, Fishhook Barrel, ETC.

Ferocactus wislizeni on 3-30-19, #557-11.

Arizona Barrel, Candy Barrel, Southwestern Barrel,
Fishhook Barrel, Biznaga de Aqua

Ferocactus wislizeni

fer-oh-KAK-tus wis-LIZ-en-ee


Echinocactus wislizeni

Synonyms of Ferocactus wislizeni: (13) (Updated on 12-6-20): Echinocactus arizonicus R.E.Kunze, Echinocactus falconeri Orcutt, Echinocactus wislizeni Engelm., Echinocactus wislizeni var. albispinus Toumey, Echinocactus wislizeni f. albispinus (Toumey) Schelle, Echinocactus wislizeni f. phoeniceus (R.E.Kunze) Schelle, Echinocactus wislizeni var. phoeniceus R.E.Kunze, Ferocactus arizonicus (R.E.Kunze) Orcutt, Ferocactus falconeri (Orcutt) Orcutt, Ferocactus phoeniceus (R.E.Kunze) Orcutt, Ferocactus wislizeni var. albispinus (Toumey) Y.Itô, Ferocactus wislizeni var. flalconeri (Orcutt) Y.Itô, Ferocactus wislizeni var. phoeniceus (R.E.Kunze) Y.Itô

Ferocactus wislizeni (Engelm.) Britton & Rose is the correct and accepted scientific name for this species of Ferocactus. It was named and described as such by Nathaniel Lord Britton and Joseph Nelson Rose in Cactaceae in 1922. It was first named Echinocactus wislizeni by Georg (George) Engelmann. The International Plant Names Index says the name was published in Wislizeni Tour North Mexico 96. Tropicos says it was published in Memoir of a Tour to Northern Mexico in 1848 and includes Friedrich Adolph Wislizenus as the in-author. The tour was connected with Col. Doniphan’s Expedition in 1846 and 1947.

The genus, Ferocactus Britton & Rose, was also named and described by Mr. Britton and Mr. Rose and in the same publication as the species.

Plants of the World Online lists 30 accepted species in the Ferocactus genus (as of 12-6-20 when I am updating this page). It is a member of the plant family Cactaceae with 144 genera. That number could change as updates are made.


Ferocactus wislizeni on 3-30-19, #557-12.

I brought this Ferocactus wislizeni home from Lowe’s on March 29 (2019). It was one of those “Strawflowers” from Altman Plants with the fake flower hot glued to the top. I managed to find three other cactus to bring home that didn’t have a strawflower.

The plant was in a 4 oz. (2 1/2” diameter x 2 1/4” tall) pot. The plant was approximately 1 5/8″ tall x 2 1/8” wide without the spines. The label states (along with the name being misspelled):

“Ferocactus wislizenii is native to the deserts of Texas, Arizona, Baja California, and Mexico. It is believed that the spines were used in the past as fishhooks. The flowers are variable; usually yellow to a beautiful, glowing deep orange. Protect from frost to prevent scarring.”

Ferocactus wislizeni on 3-30-19, #557-13.

This plant is very small but in the wild they grow HUGE and are very long-lived (up to 130 years). They have a tendency to lean south toward the equator which apparently led to one of its common names, Compass Barrel Cactus.

Family: Cactaceae
Origin: Texas, Arizona, Southern California, Mexico
Zones: USDA Zones 9a-11 (20-40° F)
Size: Hmmm…
*Light: Sun to part shade
**Soil: Very well-draining soil. Potting soil amended with pumice or chicken grit and perlite.
***Water: Regular watering during the summer. Very little, if any, during the winter.

*During the summer, I keep most of my cactus on the back deck where they receive full sun. During the winter most cactus aren’t picky about the light because they are basically dormant. For several winters, mine were in front of the east-facing sliding door in the dining room so they didn’t get much light. I built a new shelf for the bedroom so now they are in front of a west-facing window. The succulents are on a shelf in a south-facing window in a cool bedroom.

**I used 2 parts Miracle Grow Potting Soil with 1 part additional perlite and 1 part chicken grit for many years. I started using a 50/50 mixture of Miracle Grow Potting Soil and pumice in 2018 with favorable results. I also use Schultz Potting Soil which has fewer chunks of bark. I purchased the pumice online from General Pumice but you can get smaller quantities on Ebay. The problem with Miracle Grow and other peat-based potting soil is that once it gets dry it doesn’t absorb water very well. So, during the winter months, the mixture can become hard. Sometimes I repot in the fall with a fresh mixture so the potting soil will be loose for the winter. The timed-release fertilizer in the potting soil won’t be activated until you water anyway. Pumice also has nutritional value. Cactus and succulent enthusiasts recommend not to use peat-based potting soil, but around here that is difficult to find. I haven’t tried coir yet… There is a lot of cactus and succulent recipes online and you just have to experiment to see what you and your cactus like.

***I water my cactus and succulents on a regular basis during the summer but barely ever in the winter (maybe a little in January) until close to time to take them back outside. 

Ferocactus wislizeni on 6-8-19, #585-4.

On June 8 I noticed this cactus doing something weird. For a minute I thought it was growing three apexes but I realized it was just growing. As the plant was growing taller it was producing three new tubercles at the same time. Thank goodness the hot glue stuck to the spines finally came off without any damage to the plant.

Ferocactus wislizeni on 6-19-19, #592-18.

Ferocactus wislizeni has 28-30 ribs, occasionally spiraled. Ribs become less prominent with regular watering during the summer and more so during the winter with no water.

Areoles produce up to 4 central spines and 12-20 variable radial spines. This is a very small plant now, but the spines are supposed to form a dense covering and the central spines will recurve.

Ferocactus wislizeni at 2 1/4″ tall x 2 1/2″ wide on 10-11-19, #639-31.

I had to move the potted plants inside for the winter on October 11 because an “F” was in the forecast. As always, I photograph the potted pants and measure the cactus and some of the succulents when I bring them inside. The Ferocactus wislizeni measured 2 1/4″ tall x 2 1/2″ wide. That’s pretty good since it was 1 5/8” tall x 2 1/8” wide when I brought it home on March 29.

Ferocactus wislizeni from the top on 10-11-19, #639-32.

I really like this cactus with its unusual ribs and the purplish color on top. I also like the prominent red color of the spines on top of the plant.


Ferocactus wislizeni at 2 3/8″ tall x 2 3/8″ wide on 10-15-20, #747-34.

I had to move the potted plants inside for the winter on October 15 because a “F” was in the forecast. As always, I took photographs and measurements as I brought them inside. The Ferocactus wislizeni measured 2 3/8″ tall x 2 3/8″ wide (not including the spines). I like the reddish glow.

I will continue adding more photos and information as time goes by.

You can read my Cactus Talk & Update and Cactus & Succulent Tips to get my opinion about growing cactus and succulents.

If you would like more information about this cactus, click on the link to Llifle (Encyclopedia of Living Forms) below.

I hope you enjoyed this page and maybe found it useful. If you have any comments, questions or suggestions, I would like to hear from you. Please click on “like” if you visited this page. It helps us bloggers stay motivated. 🙂 You can check out the links below for further reading. The links take you directly to the genus and species of this plant.


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