Ferocactus pilosus


The Ferocactus pilosus is indigenous to Mexico (Coahuila, Durango, Nuevo León, San Luis Potosí, Tamaulipas and Zacatecas). This species grows in semi-desert conditions in varying soil types. Typically, it prefers rocky limestone hillsides. Unfortunately, this cactus is threatened due to the illegal poaching of wild subpopulations. Many surmise that the removal of floral buds for human consumption could be fueling the illegal removal of the species.

The Ferocactus pilosus is a simple or clumping barrel/columnar cactus. It is initially slow growing, but its growth rate does speed up with age. Spines are thick and red. Bristle-like, white radials create a gorgeous contrast with the bright red spines. Botanists have occasionally encountered members of this species that do not grow these white bristles. As it ages, this cactus takes on a columnar form. At full maturity, it reaches heights of 6' - 10' with a width of 1 - 1 1/2 feet. Epidermis is dark green. Flowers are yellow to red. Fruit is yellow.

The Ferocactus pilosus is an easily cultivated plant. Difficult to kill, the only two things that really harm this plant are cold temperatures and overwatering. Utilize a well-draining mineral compost with very little organic matter (i.e., peat). The soil should provide ample opportunity for the roots to breathe (rot prone). Growing season begins in early spring. Watering should gradually increase until late spring (full growth begins). Each time water is provided, the pot should completely drain with no water sitting on top of the soil or in the tray below. Do not pour water onto the body of the cactus while in direct sunlight. This leaves the plant open to sun burning, which can cause scarification, fungal infections and death. A high potassium fertilizer can be utilized in the latter summer months. In late summer, reduce the watering schedule to force the plant into a state of semi-dormancy. By autumn, begin a winter watering regime. During this period the cactus must be kept nearly completely dry and it should be provided with ample airflow. Outside, it is somewhat resistant to moisture conditions, but its soil must be well-draining. If a storm is predicted, you can cover the cactus with a tarp or blanket. Make sure to prop the cover up to stop your friend from getting crushed. USDA hardiness zone 9b - 11. Repot every 2-3 years.


Floral buds are edible. In Mexico, the flowers are eaten as a dessert (fried in a frying pan with sugar).


Ferocactus piliferus f. flavispinus (hort. ex Schelle) G.Unger
Ferocactus pringlei (J.M.Coult.) Britton & Rose
Ferocactus stainesii (Salm-Dyck) Britton & Rose
Ferocactus stainesii f. albispinum hort.

Plant Details
USDA Zone Information: 
9b - 11
Flower : 
Yellow - Red
Ideal Light Conditions: 
Full sun to partial shade (does well with full sun except during the hottest part of each day during the summer months).
Ideal Water Conditions: 
Regular watering schedule (early spring through late summer). Keep nearly completely dry during wintertime (begins in autumn).
Speed of Growth: 
Initially slow growing, but growth rate does increase with age.
Mature Height: 
6' - 10'
Mature Width: 
1 - 1 1/2 feet
Latin Name: 
Ferocactus pilosus
Common Name: 
Mexican Lime Cactus, Fire Barrel, Mexican Fire Barrel Cactus

Corporate Clients (The King hangs hard)


RoboCop (1987)
RoboCop 2 (1990)
Hot Pursuit (2015)


USA Network's Queen of the South (2019)

Botanical Gardens:

New York Botanical Gardens
Oklahoma City Zoo/Botanical Gardens
Mercer Arboretum in Houston, Texas
Meijer Gardens in Grand Rapids, Michigan


Houston, TX Zoo
San Antonio, TX Zoo

Other Clientele:

Houston, TX Rodeo

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