Ferocactus echidne


Echinocactus dolichacanthus
Echinocactus dolichacanthus
Echinocactus echidne var. gilvus
Echinocactus echidne f. gilvus
Echinocactus gilvus
Echinocactus vanderaeyi
Echinocactus victoriensis
Echinofossulocactus echidne
Echinofossulocactus vanderaeyi
Echinofossulocactus vanderaeyi var. ignotus-longispinus
Ferocactus echidne var. rhodanthus
Ferocactus echidne var. victoriensis
Ferocactus rafaelensis
Ferocactus victoriensis


Ferocactus echidne is native to Central Mexico, where it’s widespread and abundant almost in every parts of its range. It grows on volcanic rocks and limestones soils, in an ecosystems known as “Matorral xeròfilo micròfilo”. This ecoregion is a busland of low mountains areas in arid climates, at an elevation range between 300 and 2400 meters above the sea level. Though this species is not threatened, the extension of its habitat is gradually decreasing due to land use.


Ferocactus echidne is a medium size cacti, usually not branching at all, with a globose stem that rarely turns cylindrical as the plant ages. It doesn’t exceed 35-40 centimeters in height and 20, rarely 30 centimeters in width. Its stem is yellowish-green to grey-green, depending on the specimen, light condition and availability of water, and divided into 13 to 21 ribs, as in any cacti. Ribs are very pronounced, with narrow, slender crests that host the areola and the spines. Areola, as we already mentioned in other botanical notes, are the buds typical of the Cactaceae family, that are able to differentiate the spines. In this species, areoles are 2-3 centimeters apart, lined up on the crests of the ribs, yellowish, hairy when young, ovale-shaped. On each areole, 8 to 10 spines grow. Spines are divided into a central one, pointing outwards, up to 5 centimeters long, greenish-yellow to orange-yellow, stiff and straight to slightly curved; and 7-9 radial ones, pointing in a star-shaped arrangement in all directions, stiff as well and needle-like, reddish to yellow to greyish-white, shorter than the central one (up to 3 centimeters). Flowers sprout at the top of the stem, from May to August. They are funnel-shaped and grow on a scaled calyx, showy due to its intense red colour, edged in creamy-yellow. Petals are numerous and creamy-yellow as well, somehow toothed near the apex, 3 centimeters long and 5 millimeters wide. Flowers grow in groups of 2 or 3 at the top of the stem, but are not arranged in an inflorescence.


Ferocactus echidne is not difficult to grow, though rather slow-growing. Here below are our tips:

Put it in a bright spot, exposed to sunlight all year round, with the exception of the hottest hours of Summer days.
Ferocactus echidne is quite frost-tolerant, if maintained completely dry in the Winter. It bears temperatures down to -5ºC! However, warm to hot temperatures throughout the year will keep it healthier: it is happy even at temperatures of 30ºC.
Water regularly during the summer (once a week), always waiting for the substrate to dry up completely before each irrigation. Don’t wet the stem while the plant is exposed to direct sunlight, otherwise some burnings may occur.
Choose a well-drained substrate. A specific compost for cacti will do good.
Fertilize once a year with a specific product for succulents, rich in Phosphorus and Potassium and poor in Nitrogen. Apply the product, diluted with water at half the doses recommended on the label, during the growth season (Spring or Summer).
It is not necessary to repot often: Ferocactus echidne is rather slow-growing. Do it, preferably, during the Spring. To repot every year is though advisable, to provide fresh soil. They won’t need larger pots in that case.


Propagation of Ferocactus can be carried out both through seeds and cuttings.


The name “Ferocactus” comes from the Latin “ferox”, that is fierce, given by the presence of colorful, strong numerous and menacing thorns along the ribs of the stem.

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