Barrel Cactus barrel cactus

Many people believe the barrel cactus is filled with water. Not true. It is filled by a slimy alkaline juice. It is a member of the Cactus Family and is also known as Arizona barrel cactus, candy barrel cactus, fishhook barrel and compass barrel.

  • Blooms from July through September. Flowers are shades of orange to yellow to reddish and are cup-shaped. Flowering is followed by yellow, barrel-shaped, scaly fruit.
  • Fruits are eaten by deer and rodents. Bees are attracted to the plant's flowers. Cactus candy is made from plant's pulp.
  • Found at elevations between 1,000 and 4,000'.
  • Native Americans used its sharp, hooked spines as fishhooks. A good way to differentiate a barrel cactus from a young saguaro cactus, is to look at the spines; the saguaro's are straight not hooked.
  • Grows faster on its shady side causing it to lean in a southerly direction, hence the name "compass cactus."


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Friends of the Scenic Drive, Division of the Greater Pinnacle Peak Association
Scottsdale, AZ 85255