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San Diego Barrelcactus Back to Plant Page
Ferocactus viridescens

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About San Diego Barrelcactus (Ferocactus viridescens) Ferocactus viridescens is a rare species of barrel cactus known by several common names, including coast barrel cactus and San Diego barrel cactus. It is native to southern California and northern Baja California, along a very restricted portion of the coast. Most of its native range is in San Diego County, California, where most of its habitat has already been removed, and much of the remaining habitat is threatened by development, agriculture, and other alterations in its habitat. As a result, it is included on CNPS List 2B.1. This cactus is spherical, oblate, or nearly cylindrical, is usually wider than tall, and less than 30 centimeters in height. The flesh is bright green and arranged into several ribs covered in arrays of long spines. The spines stick straight out or may curve a bit, and are red when new, dulling to gray or tan. The cactus blooms in yellow to greenish flowers with red or pink scales. The fruit is yellow or red. Although wild populations are in the immediate vicinity of the coast, it can be grown inland in areas that do not experience regular freezing. It makes a great specimen for the dry coastal garden in the southern counties.
Plant Description
Plant Type
Shrub, Succulent

Max. Height
1 ft (0.3 m)

Max. Width
1.5 ft (0.5 m)


Growth Rate


Flower Color
Yellow, Pink, Green, Red

Flowering Season

Native Status
Natural Setting
Site Type
Sea bluffs and marine terraces, sandy, rocky places along the coast, often overlooking the ocean. Also found on well draining ridges more inland.


Elevation ?
7' - 1201'

Annual Precip. ?
9.4" - 15.4"

Summer Precip. ?
0.17" - 0.44"

Coldest Month ?
49.2° F - 56.2° F

Hottest Month ?
69.6° F - 77.6° F

Humidity ?
1.24 vpd - 22.21 vpd

Soil Description

Soil PH
5.2 - 7.6


Cold Tolerance(° F)
Tolerates cold to 30° F

Companion Plants
Works with a special subset of chaparral and coastal sage scrub plants known as Maritime Succulent Scrub which can include Shaw's Agave (Agave shawii), Coast Sagebrush (Artemisia californica), Del Mar Manzanita (Arctostaphylos glandulosa ssp. crassifolia), San Diego Viguiera (Bahiopsis laciniata), Golden Spined Cereus (Bergerocactus emoryi), Bushrue (Cenoridium dumosum), Coast Cholla (Cylindropuntia prolifera), Chalk Dudleya (Dudleya pulverulenta), Bush Sunflower (Encelia californica), Buckwheat (Eriogonum fasciculatum or parvifolium), Cliff Spurge (Euphorbia misera), Chaparral Yucca (Hesperoyucca whipplei), Giant Coreopsis (Leptosyne gigantea), California Boxthorn (Lycium californicum), Fish Hook Cactus (Mammillaria dioica), Nuttall's Scrub Oak (Quercus dumosa), Sage (Salvia sp.), and Torrey Pine (Pinus torreyana).

Wildlife Attracted
Various insects are attracted to the flowers

Landscaping Information
Ease of Care
Very Easy

Water Requirement ?
Extremely Low, Very Low
Extremely Low
Very Low
Moderate - High

Seldom Used

Max. Summer Water ?
No Summer Water, 1x/month
No Summer Water
Keep moist


Propagation ?
For propagating by seed: No treatment.

Common uses
Deer Resistant

Nursery Availability
Commonly Available

Other Names
Common Names
San Diego Barrel Cactus, Coast Barrel 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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