Emory Barrel


Ferocactus emoryi (Emory's Barrel Cactus)

Ferocactus emoryi (Emory's Barrel Cactus) is a cactus with a solitary, spherical or cylindrical, light green to glaucous stem that grows up…

Half-Barrel Planter Size Considerations

Most whiskey barrel planters are sold in half-barrel sizes. There are also decorative smaller barrel-style planters available (see photo above). If you want a large container garden, a half-barrel planter is a great option especially for growing lots of plants in one container. A whiskey barrel planter can hold your entire herb garden beside your apartment window or can be among the many containers holding a variety of plants in a large yard or garden.

Whiskey Barrel Planter Tip: Most half barrel planters just sit right on the ground like a barrel (pictured at top), but the odd one is sliced in half from top to bottom and placed sideways in a holding bracket that sits on the ground. You can even find whole-barrel planters that just have a square or two cut out of them for the plants to come through!

Here is a lovely mix of foliage plants that use a rich red to offset bright green.

Emory Barrel - garden

Origin and Habitat: It is native of the lower deserts of Arizona (Yuma, Pima and Maricopa Co.) and Mexico (Sonora).
Altitude range: 0-1200 metres above sea level.
Habitat: Hillsides, wash margins, alluvial fans, mesas, or flats, gravely rocky, or sandy soils in Sonoran desert scrub, Arizona Desert and the upper edge of the Colorado Desert. Rocks are often limestone with a black patina or black lava or basalt. Ferocactus emoryi is widespread, with no evidence of systematic decline, and occurs in several protected areas, although past reductions in distribution have occurred due to land use change (through ranching). In the past the Seris Indians used to eat some parts of the plants and used this cactus for medical purposes. It is cultivated as an ornamental.

Description: Ferocactus emoryi is a solitary barrel cactus except in case of injury to the growing tip, it lacks the lower radial spines of Ferocactus wislizenii and Ferocactus acanthodes but has similar heavy, ridged, hooked central spines. Three subspecies are recognized, the nominate form, subsp. covillei (Britton & Rose) D.R.Hunt & Dimmitt and subsp. rectispinus (Engelm.) N.P.Taylor.
Stems: Erect, globular when young to a stout cylinder when older, 30-90(-250) tall × 30-60 (100) cm in diameter tubercled when young later forming ribs.
Ribs: (15-)21-32, shallowly notched immediately above each areole.
Areoles: oval with brown wool, 2-2.5 cm apart.
Spines: 6-10 per areole, reddish, reddish grey, or horn coloured, all robust and rigid, more than 1 mm diameter.
Central spines: 1, curved slightly to fully hooked, (hooked only on relatively young plants), heavy, roughly cross-ribbed, annulate, thick, adaxially flat, 55-95(-130) long × 2.5-4 mm. in cross section.
Radial spines: 5 to 9 similar to central, spreading, not hooked, 2.5 to 5cm long.
Flowers: Reddish outside, brilliant red inside, 6-7.5 × 5-7.5 cm inner tepals brilliant red [or occasionally yellow] stigma lobes brilliant red.
Fruits: Persistent, oblong, scaled, 2,5-5cm long × 25-35 mm long in diameter with the dried remains of the flower atop, ± readily dehiscent through basal pore, bright yellow, 50, leathery or fleshy, locule dry, hollow except for seeds. Often the fruit are broken into and the seed eaten by birds or rodents.
Seeds: 2 mm. in diameter, black.
Remarks: F. emoryi produce nectar in the nectaries at the top of the cactus that feed the ants that live around its base. In turn, the ants are very territorial and seem to protect the plants from other insects that might try to walk up the stem and damage the fresh, delicate cells at the growing apex or steal nectar or pollen from the flowers. This strategy is useful to not only to protect the plant from small herbivores but also to promote outcrossing pollination because the only bugs that can successfully visit the flowers without being attacked by the ants are flying pollinator insects like butterflies and bees that carry pollen from other individuals and other populations, in turn increasing the genetic diversity of the species.

Subspecies, varieties, forms and cultivars of plants belonging to the Ferocactus emoryi group

Notes: Ferocactus emoryi has a confused taxonomic history. The name is based on Echinocactus emoryi, which was published twice by Engelmann, each involving a different species. Engelmann’s first use of E. emoryi [in W. H. Emory] applied to a population of Ferocactus wislizeni in eastern Arizona is rejected as provisional and therefore invalid. However, Engelmann’s second use of E. emoryi was a valid publication, and it unambigously pertains to the species in southwestern Arizona that Britton and Rose unncecessarily re-named as Ferocactus covillei.

Bibliography: Major references and forther lectures
1) Edward Anderson “The Cactus family” Timber Press, Incorporated, 2001
2) James Cullen, Sabina G. Knees, H. Suzanne Cubey "The European Garden Flora Flowering Plants: A Manual for the Identification of Plants Cultivated in Europe, Both Out-of-Doors and Under Glass" Cambridge University Press, 11/Aug/2011
3) David R Hunt Nigel P Taylor Graham Charles International Cactaceae Systematics Group. "The New Cactus Lexicon" dh books, 2006
4) N. L. Britton, J. N. Rose “The Cactaceae. Descriptions and Illustrations of Plants of the Cactus Family.” Volume 4, The Carnegie Institution of Washington, Washington 1923
5) Curt Backeberg: “Die Cactaceae: Handbuch der Kakteenkunde” Volume V, Gustav Fischer Verlag, Stuttgart New York 1982–1985
6) Sara Oldfield “Cactus and succulent plants: status survey and conservation action plan” IUCN, 1997
7) Clive Innes, Charles Glass “Cacti” Portland House, 01/May/1991
8) Burquez Montijo, A. 2013. Ferocactus emoryi. The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Version 2014.2. . Downloaded on 11 November 2014.

Ferocactus emoryi Photo by: Valentino Vallicelli
Ferocactus emoryi, in habitat Mexico. Photo by: Raimondo Paladini
Ferocactus emoryi Photo by: Valentino Vallicelli
Ferocactus emoryi in habitat (Arizona) Photo by: Raimondo Paladini

Emory Cactus Care – How To Grow An Emory’s Barrel Cactus

Native to the lower elevations of northwestern Mexico and portions southern Arizona, Ferocactus emoryi are robust cacti perfect for drought-prone gardens and dry landscapes. Commonly referred to as Emory’s barrel cactus these cylindrical spiny plants are an interesting choice for containers and addition to desert rock gardens.

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