San Diego Barrel Cactus
- 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 and no shade to grow.
- Butterflies, moths, caterpillars that are 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.