Ferocactus hamatacanthus (Mexican Fruit Cactus)

Ferocactus hamatacanthus (Mexican Fruit Cactus)

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Scientific Name

Ferocactus hamatacanthus (Muehlenpf.) Britton & Rose

Common Names

Mexican Fruit Cactus, Texas Barrel Cactus, Turk's-head Barrel Cactus


Ferocactus hamatacanthus subsp. hamatacanthus, Ferocactus hamatacanthus var. hamatacanthus, Brittonia davisii, Echinocactus gerardii, Echinocactus haematochroanthus, Echinocactus hamatacanthus, Echinocactus longihamatus, Echinocactus uncinatus, Hamatocactus hamatacanthus

Scientific Classification

Family: Cactaceae
Subfamily: Cactoideae
Tribe: Cacteae
Genus: Ferocactus


Ferocactus hamatacanthus forms to be solitary, usually a globular to oblong shape and grows up to 2 feet (60 cm). It contains 13 ribs normally, but can sometimes be around 17. They are strongly tubercled and are up to 1.2 inches (3 cm) high. Its aeroles are large and up to 1.2 inches (3 cm) apart. There are about 12 radial spines, up to 2.8 inches (7 cm) long and only 4 central spines up to 6 inches (15 cm) long. One of the central spines is hooked at its apex as well. The flowers are large, up to 3.2 inches (8 cm) in diameter and display a yellow color with an inner scarlet color in some forms. It produces a fruit that is oblong, up to 2 inches (5 cm) long, fleshy, edible and a dark brown to drab color.


USDA hardiness zone 6a to 11b: from −10 °F (−23.3 °C) to 50 °F (+10 °C).

How to Grow and Care

Choose a planting location that receives direct sun during all or most of the day. Because Ferocactus eventually leans into the sun instead of growing precisely upright and because it has extremely sharp thorns, place it where people will not brush into it accidentally.

Plant your cactus in early spring before new roots begin to form in late June and early July. The roots may appear dry, but that is typical before new growth begins. Dig a hole deep enough for the plant's roots and amend it as needed to provide fast-draining soil. A good soil mixture includes 10 percent native soil, 45 percent washed sand or pumice and 45 percent compost. Ferocactus thrives in poor and arid soil.

Water the cactus at the time of planting to anchor it into the soil. Water again only if the weather in your area is unseasonably dry and if normal spring or winter rainfall doesn't occur… – See more at: How to Grow and Care for Ferocactus


It is widespread in the Chihuahuan Desert of Northwestern Mexico, New Mexico and Southwestern Texas.

Subspecies, Varieties, Forms, Cultivars and Hybrids

  • Ferocactus hamatacanthus subsp. sinuatus


  • Back to genus Ferocactus
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Mexican Fruit Cactus, Texas Barrel, Turk's Head Barrel, Biznaga de Tuna

Family: Cactaceae (kak-TAY-see-ee) (Info)
Genus: Ferocactus (fer-oh-KAK-tus) (Info)
Species: hamatacanthus subsp. sinuatus
Synonym:Echinocactus sinuatus
Synonym:Hamatocactus sinuatus
Synonym:Ferocactus hamatacanthus var. sinuatus
Synonym:Bisnaga hamatacantha subsp. sinuata
Synonym:Echinocactus hamatacanthus var. sinuatus


Water Requirements:

Drought-tolerant suitable for xeriscaping

Sun Exposure:


Foliage Color:




USDA Zone 8b: to -9.4 °C (15 °F)

USDA Zone 9a: to -6.6 °C (20 °F)

USDA Zone 9b: to -3.8 °C (25 °F)

USDA Zone 10a: to -1.1 °C (30 °F)

USDA Zone 10b: to 1.7 °C (35 °F)

USDA Zone 11: above 4.5 °C (40 °F)

Where to Grow:

Can be grown as an annual


Plant has spines or sharp edges use extreme caution when handling

Bloom Color:

Bloom Characteristics:

Bloom Size:

Bloom Time:

Other details:

Soil pH requirements:

Patent Information:

Propagation Methods:

From seed direct sow after last frost

Seed Collecting:

Allow unblemished fruit to ripen clean and dry seeds

Unblemished fruit must be significantly overripe before harvesting seed clean and dry seeds

Properly cleaned, seed can be successfully stored

Gardeners' Notes:

On Sep 8, 2006, frostweed from Josephine, Arlington, TX (Zone 8a) wrote:

Ferocactus hamatacanthus subsp. sinuatus, is Endemic to Texas.

On Apr 16, 2005, Xenomorf from Phoenix, AZ (Zone 9b) wrote:

The buds, which are called cabuches, are harvested for food.
The 'hamatacanthus' subspecies will grow to a height of 2 feet. It has compressed and rounded ribs with noticeable tubercles. It has 4-8 central spines and blooms yellow with red throated flowers.
The 'sinuatus' subspecies only grows to 1 foot high. It has acute & compressed ribs, only 4 central spines. The flowers are totally yellow with no red.

Other valid synonyms are:
Echinocactus longihamatus var. sinuatus
Echinocactus setispinus var. sinuatus

Watch the video: Picking Prickly Pears - great desert food