The Golden Barrel Cactus, Echinocactus grusonii

And the Golden Barrel Award goes to…well…the Golden Barrel cactus!

The brilliant yellow spines of Echinocactus grusonii Hild. point stiffly downward in intricate and intriguing patterns. There are so many that they almost hide the green stem beneath. It produces beautiful yellow flowers. A private cacti grower from southern California, by the name of E. C. Rose, wrote in 1919, that “the flowers are deeply embedded in the dense felt cushion…[and] the flower opens according to the time that the warm rays of the sun reach the plant.” It is common in many landscapes in the southwestern United States, however, where it grows naturally, in central Mexico, it is actually quite threatened. A specimen can attain a diameter of three or more feet, with up to 35 ribs bearing the long, sharp yellow spines. Old plants produce offsets around the base, eventually leading to large clusters containing dozens of individuals, a habit characteristic which contrasts with the singular barrel forms of Ferocactus.

In 1827, in volume three of Verhandlungen des Vereins zur Beförderung des Gartenbaues in den Königlich Preussischen Staaten, Johann Heinrich Link and Christoph Friedrich Otto published the genus Echinocactus. Since then more than a thousand species names have been placed in it, however, the genus today is comprised of only six recognized species.

An illustration of Echinocactus grusonii from which Herr Hildmann described the species in 1891. From Professor K. Schumann’s Monatsschrift fur Kakeenkunde.

On the 12th of May, 1887, in Volume 14 of the Journal of Horticulture and Practical Gardening, we learn a few details about the horticulturist, Herr H. Hildmann, the man who named Echinicactus grusonii. He lived in Oranienburg, Brandenburg, Germany, located on the banks of the Havel river, 22 miles north of Berlin. There he cultivated a remarkable garden filled with accurately labeled cacti. Mr. Hildmann was a prolific writer, extolling the virtues of the Cactaceae in numerous publications, including Professor Schumann’s volumes of Monatsschrift fur Kakteenkunde.

Echinocactus grusonii, showcasing the many woolly hairs at the top of the stem.
Echinocactus grusonii, a very old cluster at the Wrigley Botanical Garden on Santa Catalina Island, California.
1 Comment
  1. AffiliateLabz 8 months ago

    Great content! Super high-quality! Keep it up! 🙂

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