- A rare species of barrel cactus
- Spherical or nearly cylindrical, as it is usually wider than it is tall (averages 12 inches tall, 18 inches wide)
- The flesh is bright green, arranged into several ribs covered in long spines
- Pink, red, green, or yellow flowers, with yellow or red fruit
- Spines are red when new and they dull to gray as they age
- Southern California and northern Baja California, Mexico, along the coast
- Most of its native range is in San Diego County
- Native to chaparral, valley grasslands, coastal sage scrub, marine terraces and sea bluffs
- Found in sandy, rocky places by the coast, often overlooking the ocean
- Flowers in May and June
- Seeds are harvested in July
- Like all plants, it gets its energy from the sun through photosynthesis. It needs full sun, no shade to grow
- Butterflies, moths, caterpillars hosted in the cactus
- It is also called the coast barrel cactus.
- The flowers have no fragrance.
- The Kumeyaay utilized the barrel as a roasting vessel, ate the seeds, and used the spines as fish hooks.
Sources: CalFlora; California Native Plant Society; University of San Diego
Photo: Beth Besom
See the San Diego Barrel Cactus and other native plants in the Native Plant Garden at Living Coast Discovery Center.