Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Barrel Cactus

I snapped this shot at the Boyce Thompson Arboretum.  They have lovely arrangements using this cactus.
Looking for a reliable cactus in Tucson? Perhaps you need some structure to your garden?  One of my favorite cactus to use in a repetitive form is the Barrel Cactus.  It does extremely well here in Tucson with very little care.  This SLOW growing cactus is round and adds lovely shape to the desert garden.  At El Presidio, there are 5 of them.  Two are located near the fruit garden while the other cluster is at the front gate.
One of my first shots last year with my then, new camera.  The sunlight creates wonderful shadowplay against the spine clusters(areoles) of the cactus.
This cactus is unique in that it always points south when it grows.  It's sometimes known as the "Compass Cactus" for that reason.  It will lean to protect itself from sunburn giving the appearance that it will fall over. Eventually it will become large and tip over, but that takes many many years to happen.  They grow extremely slow.  When it flowers, it has orange to yellow coloring that happens on top of the cactus.  The fruits look like small pineapples which are loved by the local desert fauna. Offshoots from the main stem, called pups, will form and you can carefully take them off the mother plant and pot them later for placement in the landscape. Very little care is needed once established.  They do well in our winters and summers as they are hardy.  Barrel cactus also make a lovely statement in pots.
Taken in spring of this past year in the fruit garden.
Personally I love the yellow and green  colors on this plant.  On the above pic, you can see the yellow spines against the green.  Love cactus?  Then this is a definite must for your Tucson garden. 
This pic I snapped at my work place.


  1. I'm always attracted by these cacti. They look great, even their flowers. Nice captures!

  2. I don't have this kind in my garden yet. But I love to see them at the nurseries :-D


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