Echinocactus Grusonii: Are Golden Barrel Cactus Poisonous?

Are Golden Barrel Cactus Poisonous?

The Barrel Cactus has poisonous sap, which is found in the ribs of the plant and may cause irritation to the skin. Also, it has sharp needles that are embedded in its pads for protection against predators. However, these are not contaminated with toxins but only a latex-like liquid (which can cause irritation to your fingers).

Barrel cacti are among the most hazardous plants found in deserts. Their spines are able to puncture skin of humans. It is said that a cut that suckers blood can take a long time to heal with antibiotics required for certain. There is also a belief that the fluid in the Cactus could cause fatality when ingested, or even sniffed.

The popular golden barrel cactus may cause more harm. Cacti have been tested to determine toxic thorns.

This has a spherical shape (or nearly) that has a fairly rapid growth, reaching the size of a meter after a number of years. Much like the vast majority of cacti Mother-in-Law’s cushion does not have leaves. It is one (very) swelling stem in which the necessary juices to survive is stored and is covered with the possibility of having up to 35 longitudinally ribs, also known as ribs.

At the top of these ribs are areoles typically arranged, from which come large, strong, and sharp spines, which are typically yellow. In reality, they represent the reduction of branches or twigs, and the spines are actually transformed into leaves (which is also the case for every plant that has areoles, whether they are leaves or not).

Are Barrel Cactus Poisonous to Dogs?

While it’s true that golden barrel cacti aren’t poisonous themselves, they can cause problems if eaten by dogs. The problem lies in their spines and the fact that these spines can get lodged inside of your pet’s digestive tract causing pain and discomfort on top of any gastrointestinal issues that may arise from ingesting them. If enough spines are ingested at once then they could possibly puncture a hole in an organ or even cause internal bleeding so watch out for those spines!

 A dog will end up having diarrhea if he eats too much of this plant. He may also get an upset stomach if he eats just a little bit of it. You should also know that dogs who have eaten a large quantity of this plant have died. This is because the toxins in the plant can cause poisoning in dogs and lead to kidney failure.


The mother-in-law’s cactus is spherical, with a barrel-shaped design for adults. Another unique feature is its flattened upper area (at the top) it displays the appearance of a whitish or yellow shroud and woolly tissues.

  • Echinocactus Grusonii is a slow-growing, globose spiny succulent that has a light green skin that can reach three feet tall.
  • Plants older than a few years old will be symmetrically ribbed. 21-37 ribs per Cactus.
  • The spines of the golden barrel are yellow and are one to two inches in length, they are arranged in clusters that are evenly spaced on the ribs.
  • Golden barrels’ central spines measure approximately two to four inches in length.
  • E. Grusonii can require up to 20 years before becoming fully mature. Most grown plants won’t attain full size.
  • In the summer mature golden barrels form an apical ring of yellow flowers. They will be which will be followed by brown fruits.
  • Common English Names: Barrel Cactus, Southwestern Barrel Cactus, Fishhook Barrel Cactus, Compass Cactus.
  • Common Spanish Names: Biznaga de Agua.
  • Scientific Name: Ferocactus wislizenii (fair-row-KAK-tus wiz-lih-ZEN-ee-aye).
  • Family: Cactaceae (Cactus Family).
  • Geographic Range: El Paso County, Texas, west to Arizona and south to Sinaloa, Sonora, and Chihuahua, Mexico.
  • Plant Form: Unbranched columnar body, usually 2 to 4′ tall by 1′ diameter, exceptionally taller and wider.
  • Remarks: Red, orange, or yellow blooms up to 2″ in diameter, July to September. Fruit turning yellow when mature, persisting for up to a year. Flowering size (about 10″ x 10″) is reached in about 12 years in cultivation. Full sun, good drainage.

Special care:

  1. A well-drained and fertile soil that is composed of equal amounts of garden soil as well as sand.
  2. The sun’s rays and shade, as its hardiness is quite low (about 10degC ).
  3. A steady stream of watering is required from spring to the autumn, with two complete drying out of the substrate and the addition of fertilizer to “cacti” twice a month during the winter months, in a dry area and with a temperature of around 15 degrees Celsius.


Can You Drink Water from a Barrel Cactus?

 You can drink from a barrel cactus, but only one of the five varieties – the hook barrel – is non-poisonous. edible cacti there – prickly pear, for example.

The most common species of barrel cactus is Ferocactus cylindraceus (aka F. chrysacanthus) (California barrel cactus, Desert barrel cactus, and miner’s compass). The other types of barrel cactus that you may encounter are F. wislizeni (aka yellow barrel),Ferocactus setispinus  (aka red and green dragon, Hedgehog cactus, Twisted Rib Cactus, and Fishhook Cactus).

Are Fishhook Barrel Cactus poisonous?

Fishhook Barrel Cactus

The Fishhook Barrel Cactus is often called the “Compass Barrel” because some of the larger plants lean toward the southwest. The Fishhook Barrel Cactus (Ferocactus wislizeni) is an excellent choice for landscaping in arid Tucson because it tolerates our hot, dry summers and relatively low rainfall. 

This cactus does contain water, but the water contains oxalic acid and is likely to cause diarrhea if ingested when the stomach is empty. As far as toxicity goes, the Fishhook Barrel Cactus isn’t poisonous to humans, but it has been known to cause skin irritations when touched. 

Are candy barrel cactus poisonous?

For centuries, the Pima and other tribes used the visnaga’s cooked pulp as food and its spines as fishing hooks, and candy from the plant was a well-known homemade treat in Mexico. But “Donofrio’s Crystallized Cactus Candy” marked its first industrial production in the United States.

“Ferocactus wislizeni, the fishhook barrel cactus, also called Arizona barrel cactus, candy barrel cactus, and Southwestern barrel cactus.”

How Many Types of Barrel Cacti Are There?

Encyclopaedia Britannica, Inc. The 19 Sclerocactus species sometimes referred to as small barrels, possess at least one spine with a hook on the central one. (All cacti that have spines this bent can be described as fishhook cacti. This includes some varieties from Ferocactus.) The flowers are mostly pink or yellow, as well as cream.

How Do You Identify a Barrel Cactus?

The Ferocactus or Barrel Cactus generally grows solitary, with ribbed ribs and straight yellow spines. Ferocactus is a generally solitary barrel cactus, with bluish-green stems up to 55 cm tall and up to 50 cm in diameter.

Yellow/red flowers and yellow fruit always grow at the top of the plant.


 The Arizona Cactus Center states that the Fowler’s Golden Barrel cactus has a “formidable arsenal of spines, an arsenal specially designed to inflict excruciating pain upon anyone that dares to get too close. 

This is how it protects itself from the four-legged and two-legged predators that would make a meal of it.” They warn people to stay away from them. This warning will keep many people safe from this dangerous plant.


Anwar Hossain

My name is Anwar Hossain. I am a cactus lover, researcher, and cactus blogger.

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