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Echinocactus polycephalus
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Cotton Top Cactus
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Echinocactus polycephalus

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About Cotton Top Cactus (Echinocactus polycephalus) Echinocactus polycephalus is a cactus that occurs in the Mojave Desert region of Arizona, California, and Nevada. It also occurs in the Sonoran Desert region of southern California and northern Sonora, Mexico. The plants grow in some of the most extreme arid environments in the American Southwest, such as Death Valley National Park, and the Mojave National Preserve of Southern California. The stems of Echinocactus polycephalus are sometimes solitary, but more often in clusters of as many as 30, each up to 0. 6 m tall. The spines are yellow to red. The fruits are densely woolly, giving the common name "Cotton top cactus". In the past, it was also called "niggerhead cactus. "
Plant Description
Plant Type
Shrub, Succulent

Max. Height
2 ft (0.6 m)

Native Status

Natural Setting
Elevation ?
488' - 5402'

Annual Precip. ?
3.8" - 9.3"

Summer Precip. ?
0.38" - 2.31"

Coldest Month ?
45.0° F - 62.5° F

Hottest Month ?
69.1° F - 87.8° F

Humidity ?
5.16 vpd - 40.60 vpd

Landscaping Information
Nursery Availability
Never or Almost Never Available

Other Names
Common Names
Cottontop Cactus

Sources include: Wikipedia. All text shown in the "About" section of these pages is available under the Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike License. Plant observation data provided by the participants of the California Consortia of Herbaria, Sunset information provided by Jepson Flora Project. Propogation from seed information provided by the Santa Barbara Botanical Garden from "Seed Propagation of Native California Plants" by Dara E. Emery. Sources of plant photos include CalPhotos, Wikimedia Commons, and independent plant photographers who have agreed to share their images with Calscape. Other general sources of information include Calflora, CNPS Manual of Vegetation Online, Jepson Flora Project, Las Pilitas, Theodore Payne, Tree of Life, The Xerces Society, and information provided by CNPS volunteer editors, with special thanks to Don Rideout. Climate data used in creation of plant range maps is from PRISM Climate Group, Oregon State University, using 30 year (1981-2010) annual "normals" at an 800 meter spatial resolution.

Links:   Jepson eFlora Taxon Page  CalPhotos  Wikipedia  Calflora

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