Echinocactus is a genus of large and beautiful barrel-shaped cacti, usually with large spines and small flowers. The generic name derives from the Ancient Greek echino - "spiny" and cactus and describes these plants well. Additional species used to be included in the genus but now the number is reduced to six. They are coming from southwestern USA and northern Mexico. The barrels range in size from several hundred pounds to miniature forms only a few inches high.
Echinocactus is a genus usually with large spines and small flowers. A few have more slender and flexible spines, and the genus includes a some spineless members. The exterior exhibits from eight to more than twenty vertical or spiraling ribs. Flowers are produced at, or near the apex of the plant. Dry fruit is produced by the Echinocactus and is not edible.
Hardiness zones 8-11, (-10øC/15øF, 4øC/40øF). Most Echinocactus are fairly cold resistant, often to below 20øF (-7øC). They thrive on plenty of sun. Young Echinocactus should be protected from direct sunlight, until fully acclimated. Most species are subject to scarring at the base of the column, and this can be partially avoided by providing regular water and fertilizer. They grow rapidly if they are given abundant water and fertilizer.