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Ferocactus glaucescens (A. P. de Candolle) Britton & Rose 1922

Blue barrel

KingdomPlantaePlants, but not fungi, lichens, or algae
SubkingdomTracheobiontaVascular plants—plants with a “circulatory system” for delivering water and nutrients
DivisionMagnoliophytaFlowering plants, also known as angiosperms
ClassMagnoliopsidaDicotyledons—plants with two initial seed leaves
SubclassCaryophyllidaeCacti, many other succulents, carnivorous plants, and leadworts
OrderCaryophyllalesIncludes cacti, carnations, amaranths, ice plants, and many carnivorous plants
FamilyCactaceaeSucculent (water-storing) plants, often spiny
GenusFerocactusFrom the Latin ferus, “fierce,” and cactus, referring to its heavy spines
SpeciesglaucescensSomewhat glaucous

About plant names...

Ferocactus glaucescens means roughly "fierce bluish cactus"—a pretty good description, since the body is bluish green ("glaucous") and the spines are not to be trifled with. These cacti are found only in Hidalgo, Mexico.

Identification: Plants are distinctly bluish in color, ball-shaped, usually with flattened tops, found singly or in multiply branched groups. They are up to 1½′ (45 cm) high and 1½′ (50 cm) around, with 12-17 ribs. (The Arizona-Sonara Desert Museum lists sizes up to 12′ (3.7 m), but I couldn't confirm that elsewhere and it may be a misprint.) Spines are in groups of 6-7, to 1¼″ (3.5 cm) long. Yellow, bell-shaped flowers are up to 1¾″ (4.5 cm) long. Whitish or yellowish fruits are up to ⅞″ (2.5 cm) long.


Anderson, Edward F., The Cactus Family, Timber Press, 2001, p. 330

Online References:

Cactus Art: the World of Cacti & Succulents



The Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum Center for Sonoran Desert Studies

The South Coast Botanic Garden

Echinocactus glaucescens A. P. de Candolle 1829

Bisnaga glaucescens (A. P. de Candolle) Orcutt 1926

Echinocactus pfeifferi Zuccarini 1837

Ferocactus pfeifferi (Zuccarini) Backeberg 1961


Ferocactus glaucescens description by Thomas H. Kent, last updated 25 May 2020.

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Ferocactus glaucescens (blue barrel)

4/6/2011 · Howard Peters Rawlings Conservatory & Botanic Gardens, Druid Hill Park, Baltimore, Mary­land · ≈ 10 × 15″ (26 × 39 cm)

Range: Zones 9b-11:

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