California Barrel Cactus [Ferocactus cylindraceus (Engelm.) Orc. var. cylindraceus]

California Barrel Cactus [Ferocactus cylindraceus (Engelm.) Orc. var. cylindraceus]

Listing Unlisted R-E-D Code - None

State/Federal. Status None CACTACEAE Apr.-May

Global Rank None State Rank None

Distribution: San Diego County, Inyo County, Imperial County, San Bernardino County, and Riverside County; Arizona; Baja California and Sonora, Mexico

Habitat: Sonoran Desert Scrub and Mojavean Desert Scrub are the general habitat of the California Barrel Cactus. While this cacti will grow on sandy alluvial plains, it also utilizes slopes and Acid Igneous rock lands. Benson differentiates between variety lecontei with a central spine 2-3 inches in length, and variety acanthodes with a central spine 3-6 inches in length. The former grows at higher elevations 2,500-5,000 feet in elevation, while the latter usually inhabits the 200-1500 foot elevational range.

Known Sites: California Barrel Cactus is common and widely distributed on the western fringe of the Colorado Desert. Densities are greatest on the rocky eastern slopes at the base of the Laguna Mountains, such as at Box Canyon. It is scattered from Mountain Springs Grade northward along Highway S-2 to the San Felipe Valley. It was observed on the western side of the Indio Hills near Monroe Street in Riverside County. Benson reports variety acanthodes from the New York and Whipple Mountains of San Bernardino County, occasional in the deserts of Riverside County, in the Chocolate Mountains of Imperial County, and in Arizona near the lower Gila River. Reported by Thorne for the eastern Mohave at Cedar Canyon; also by Shreve and Wiggins for Yuma County in Arizona and northwestern Sonora.

Sixteen species of California Barrel Cactus are found at the herbarium for the San Diego Natural History Museum south to 30 44' North where collected by Moran (SD 91580) 4 miles southwest of San Isodoro.

Status: Recently delisted by CNPS, this cactus is locally abundant in the arid, low desert foothills. Loss of mature specimens to "cactus thieves," while of concern, is not considered a valid rationale for listing.


Copyright May 1994 Craig H. Reiser.

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