Devil's Tongue Barrel Cactus

Devil's Tongue Barrel Cactus


Ferocactus latispinus (Devil's Tongue Barrel Cactus)

Ferocactus latispinus (Devil's Tongue Barrel Cactus) is an attractive cactus with a globular, light green stem that usually has 21 acute ribs. It grows…

Taking Care Of Ferocactus Latispinus “Devil’s Tongue Barrel Cactus”

Ideal conditions

Devil’s tongue barrel cactus isn’t much different from other cacti – it likes to be in full sunlight, doesn’t need much water, isn’t frost-hardy, and requires Zone 9b to 11b temperatures to survive and thrive (from 25 to 50 degrees Fahrenheit, from -3.9 to +10 degrees Celsius).


Water the devil’s tongue barrel cactus only when its soil is dry to the touch. This cactus requires little water and is drought-resistant, so it’s difficult to underwater it. Don’t overwater it since staying in standing water may cause root damage.

In summer, you may need to water the plant more often, so make sure to keep an eye on the soil – when it gets dry, it’s time to water the cactus.

In winter, ferocactus latispinus is dormant and thus doesn’t need much water. Only barely water the soil since it’s much easier to overwater the cactus in winter.

Where to plant

The devil’s tongue barrel cactus makes for a great garden or patio cactus since it requires filtered to full sunlight. On hot summer days, place a shade or filter over the plant to reduce the amount of heat it receives and prevent sunburn.

You may also plant this cactus in a pot and keep it close to a window that’s lit all day, but pot planting won’t be the optimal solution for this plant, though it can be kept indoors. If keeping inside, make sure to pick a pot with drainage holes.

The devil’s tongue barrel cactus requires a porous and well-draining soil. Among soil mixtures that work well with this cactus is a mix of 10% native soil, 45% compost, and 45% washed sand or pumice. You may also use commercially-made porous soil for cactuses.

General care information

If there’s a risk of temperatures below 40 degrees Fahrenheit, the devil’s tongue barrel cactus should be placed in a pot and brought indoors. You may need to do this in winter if you are living in a temperate area.

Inside, ensure that the cactus grows on a sunny window sill. Alternatively, place it under a grow light.

If the cactus is kept in a pot, then you will also need to repot it to accommodate its growth. The devil’s tongue barrel cactus doesn’t grow too quickly, but you may want to repot it every year if possible. You may also repot it if you feel that it has outgrown its container.

Aside from providing more room for growth, repotting allows you to have a look at the roots and assess their condition.

Fertilization should also be done throughout late spring and summer. Fertilize this cactus sparingly.

Overall, the devil’s tongue barrel isn’t that difficult to take care of. With proper temperatures, sunlight, and a little water, you should see this plant bloom pretty soon.

Ferocactus Species, Devil's Tongue Barrel, Crow's Claw Cactus, Fish Hook Cactus

Family: Cactaceae (kak-TAY-see-ee) (Info)
Genus: Ferocactus (fer-oh-KAK-tus) (Info)
Species: latispinus (la-TYE-spin-uss) (Info)
Synonym:Ferocactus latispinus subsp. latispinus
Synonym:Ferocactus nobilis
Synonym:Ferocactus latispinus var. greenwoodii
Synonym:Ferocactus recurvus
Synonym:Bisnaga recurva subsp. latispina


Water Requirements:

Drought-tolerant suitable for xeriscaping

Sun Exposure:


Foliage Color:




USDA Zone 9b: to -3.8 °C (25 °F)

USDA Zone 10a: to -1.1 °C (30 °F)

USDA Zone 10b: to 1.7 °C (35 °F)

USDA Zone 11: above 4.5 °C (40 °F)

Where to Grow:

Grow outdoors year-round in hardiness zone

Suitable for growing in containers


Plant has spines or sharp edges use extreme caution when handling

Bloom Color:

Bloom Characteristics:

This plant is attractive to bees, butterflies and/or birds

Bloom Size:

Bloom Time:

Other details:

Soil pH requirements:

Patent Information:

Propagation Methods:

From seed direct sow after last frost

Seed Collecting:

Allow unblemished fruit to ripen clean and dry seeds

Unblemished fruit must be significantly overripe before harvesting seed clean and dry seeds

Properly cleaned, seed can be successfully stored


This plant is said to grow outdoors in the following regions:

Gardeners' Notes:

On Apr 18, 2015, Mark_B from Garden Grove, CA wrote:

Can tolerate winters down into the 30's (Fahrenheit), but keep the soil dry.

On Sep 1, 2014, Cereuspete from Tucson, AZ wrote:

Have been cultivating this species for close to thirty years, and throughout that time, it has become one of my favorites. I first encountered it as a potted, indoor / outdoor specimen plant when I resided in Maryland. Upon moving to Benson, AZ (at an elevation of 4,000') I planted several, all of which survived even the coldest of winters.

Today, at my current home in Tucson, AZ, I have several clusters of this species in both purple and white flowering variations. Good drainage is a must, especially if our "winter" turns "rainy" and "cold." The bold spines create a striking appearance against the rather brilliant green of the plant's flesh. I highly recommend it for beginners and experienced cactophiles alike.

On Oct 11, 2011, sherizona from Peoria, AZ (Zone 9b) wrote:

This is a great cactus, but the older it gets the less attractive it looks. In other words, unlike many other types of cactus this one doesn't age all that well. Young ones tend to produce the best blooms, at least they do out here in the desert.

On Oct 14, 2005, cactus_lover from FSD,
Pakistan (Zone 10b) wrote:

This Ferocactus is quite likely to flower,but usually only if the weather is warm and sunny.

On Apr 19, 2005, Xenomorf from Phoenix, AZ (Zone 9b) wrote:

As of 2001 the 'latispinus variety' has now become the 'latispinus subspecies'.
The 'latispinus' subspecies has 9-15 radial spines that range from thin & white to dark and stout, and is most prevalent.
The 'spiralis' subspecies has 5-7 stout radial spines.

Other valid synonyms are:
Cactus latispinus
Cactus recurvus
Cactus nobilis
Echinocactus nobilis
Echinocactus cornigerus
Echinocactus corniger
Echinocactus recurvus
Echinocactus recurvus var. latispinus
Ferocactus cylindraceus var. greenwoodiae
Bisnaga cornigera
Bisnaga recurva
Melocactus latispinus
Mammillaria latispina

On Feb 25, 2004, palmbob from Acton, CA (Zone 8b) wrote:

Great looking color on this plant when young- gets a bit duller as it ages. Flowers can sometimes be a deep purple to dark magenta and quite striking. Thick thick spines on this one, that hook around and graph you if you get too close. From Mexico

On Jun 15, 2001, Amari from Austin, TX (Zone 8a) wrote:

With age, the red or straw spines of this slow-growing, ball-shaped or flat-topped, globular plant become broad and hooked and lie flat against the body. Cream to purple flowers appear in spring or autumn.

Watch the video: FEROCACTUS SPECIES - Vid#24