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Hedgehog Cactus (Echinocereus spp.)
Cactus Around Las Vegas, Vegetation Around Las Vegas
 
1Hedgehog Cactus (Echinocereus)

General: Hedgehog Cactus is the general name for a group of cactus that tend to grow in clumps or mounds on the ground with short, stout stems. The stems grow to about 4-inches wide and about 1-ft tall, and they have ribs (flutes) running from bottom to top. The stems are loosely covered with relatively long, stout spines. Flowers grow from sides of stem. The spines tend to be straight.

Hedgehog Cactus are never dominant components of a vegetation community, but they can be fairly common. Hedgehogs occur in the Upper Sonoran (Mojave Desert Scrub and Pinyon-Juniper Woodland) and higher life zones. Two species occur around Las Vegas.

Family: Cactus (Cactaceae).

Other Names: mound cactus, calico cactus.

Plant Form: Upright, short, stout stems that emerge from the ground. Stems ribbed, with spines growing from the top of the ridges.

Scarlet Hedgehog Cactus (Echinocereus engelmannii)

Height: Stems to about 1 ft, but mounds to about 18 inches.

Trunk: None.

Leaves: None (reduced to spines).

Flowers: Large, red flowers; bloom in late spring.

Seeds:

Habitat: Rocky bajadas to mountain peaks, depending on species.

Distribution: Various species are distributed throughout the southwestern deserts, usually in gravelly and rocky soils.

Elevation: To 8,000 ft.

Comments: Desert rodents and birds eat the fruits.

Hedgehog Cactus (Echinocereus spp)

Strawberry Hedgehog Cactus (Echinocereus engelmannii). Short, thick stems emerge from the ground and grow to about 1.5 ft high. Vertical ribs along the stem (11-13 per stem) with relatively long and stout, multicolored (brown to white), flat spines. Flowers large and scarlet; fruits are said to taste like strawberries.

Kingcup Cactus (Echinocereus triglochidiatus)

Mojave Kingcup Cactus (Echinocereus mojavensis). Compact mound formed of many, densely packed stems to about 1-foot tall and densely covered with gray, twisted and interlocking spines. Flowers deep red.

 
Note: All distances, elevations, and other facts are approximate. Names generally follow the USDA database.
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© 2014 Jim Boone; Last updated 081227

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