The Golden Barrel cactus, also known as golden ball cactus with a botanical name Echinocactus is a popular slow growing desert plant known for its remarkable golden spines.
The golden barrel is native to both South and North America. The plant is usually very scarce and endangered but can live for up to 30 years in the wild. It is usually found growing in volcanic rocks on slopes that has an altitude of about 1400 meters.
Its globe-like shaped stem can develop to about 60 inches long and 36 inches in diameter. It has a ribbed stem with a yellowish spine and its crown is made up of white-colored woolen hairs. The golden barrel cacti develop yellow flowers at mid-summer which is usually located on the crown but usually reveals after twenty years.
The white-spined or short-spined golden barrel cactus are specially nurtured for ornamental purposes in nurseries like desert gardens, containers, rock gardens or conservatories can be fed with high potassium fertilizer.
The golden cactus can rapidly grow in warm climates but requires an average temperature between 50F/10C to 75F/23.8C. and a very good soil drainage in winter because excessive water may let the root rot. Humidity is not much of a concern for this plant as it can survive in a normal atmospheric condition with enough fresh air absent of cold drafts.
The seeds of this plant germinate during moist, warm conditions and prefer a lot of sunlight to sprout. However, some shade is required to also prevent sunburn. Well-Drained soil is required for cultivating this plant.
This Golden Barrel cactus has a recognizable bright green flesh and a range of straight to curved reddish spines. It flourishes from yellow to greenish flowers in the summer and could produce either red or yellow fruits. Its life cycle begins from its flower which can then be pollinated to create more seeds. Its fruits are usually located within its dense hairs on the top of the plant and they can stay for a long time until they are removed.
The fruits, flower buds and seeds of the golden barrel buds can serve as food. The flesh can either be eaten raw or boiled. The flower buds could also be boiled in saltwater or fried and the fruits can either be dried or eaten fresh.
Their seeds can also serve as food which is usually gathered by July and toasted, ground or dried before being consumed. The barrel can traditionally serve as a vessel for roasting by simply cutting off the top, extracting the flesh and replacing with hot stones and meal. The top can also be cut off and pounded to squeeze out water from the pulp.
The Golden Barrel cactus is very versatile in the landscape depending on how it will be used. A special trait about the Golden Barrel cacti is that it is usually disease-free. It can repel spider mite, mealybug and insects on its own and It has the ability to withstand severe drought.