Table of Contents
SPECIES: Ferocactus wislizeni
AUTHORSHIP AND CITATION :
Matthews, Robin F. 1994. Ferocactus wislizeni. In: Fire Effects Information
System, [Online]. U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Rocky
Mountain Research Station, Fire Sciences Laboratory (Producer).
Available: https://www.fs.fed.us/database/feis/plants/cactus/ferwis/all.html .
Revisions : On 29 September 2015, the scientific and common names of this species were changed
from: Ferocactus wislizenii, barrel cactus
to: Ferocactus wislizeni, candybarrel cactus.
Citations supporting that change were added [33,41].
Echinocactus wislizenii Engelm. [1,17,36]
Ferocactus wislizenii (Engelm.) Britt. & Rose [1,36,38]
SCS PLANT CODE :
COMMON NAMES :
southwestern barrel cactus
The currently accepted scientific name of candybarrel cactus is Ferocactus
wislizeni (Engelm.) Britt. & Rose (Cactaceae) [33,41]. There are no
LIFE FORM :
FEDERAL LEGAL STATUS :
No special status
OTHER STATUS :
DISTRIBUTION AND OCCURRENCE
SPECIES: Ferocactus wislizeni
GENERAL DISTRIBUTION :
Candybarrel cactus is distributed in southeastern Arizona from Maricopa and
Pima to Greenlee and Cochise counties, east to southern New Mexico from
Hidalgo County to southwestern Lincoln County, and in El Paso County,
Texas. Candybarrel cactus is also found in Mexico to Sinaloa and Chihuahua
[1,17,36,38]. It is cultivated in Hawaii .
FRES30 Desert shrub
FRES33 Southwestern shrubsteppe
FRES34 Chaparral - mountain shrub
FRES35 Pinyon - juniper
FRES40 Desert grasslands
AZ HI NM TX MEXICO
BLM PHYSIOGRAPHIC REGIONS :
7 Lower Basin and Range
12 Colorado Plateau
13 Rocky Mountain Piedmont
14 Great Plains
KUCHLER PLANT ASSOCIATIONS :
K023 Juniper - pinyon woodland
K027 Mesquite bosque
K031 Oak - juniper woodlands
K040 Saltbush - greasewood
K042 Creosotebush - bursage
K043 Paloverde - cactus shrub
K044 Creosotebush - tarbush
K046 Desert: vegetation largely lacking
K053 Grama - galleta steppe
K054 Grama - tobosa prairie
K058 Grama - tobosa shrubsteppe
SAF COVER TYPES :
239 Pinyon - juniper
241 Western live oak
SRM (RANGELAND) COVER TYPES :
HABITAT TYPES AND PLANT COMMUNITIES :
Candybarrel cactus is primarily found in desert grassland and desert shrub
habitats in the Sonoran and Chihuahuan deserts [1,5,14,27]. It also
extends into communities at higher elevations in interior chaparral and
is found in the Madrean evergreen woodland in encinal woodlands with a
mixture of evergreen oaks (Quercus spp.) and junipers (Juniperus spp.)
[5,14]. Candybarrel cactus is not listed as a dominant or codominant species
in available publications.
Some species generally associated with candybarrel cactus include prickly
pear or cholla (Opuntia spp.), acacia (Acacia spp.), ocotillo (Fouqueria
splendens), yucca (Yucca spp.), saguaro (Carnegiea gigantea), grama
(Bouteloua spp.), and threeawn (Aristida spp.) [3,4,18,21].
SPECIES: Ferocactus wislizeni
IMPORTANCE TO LIVESTOCK AND WILDLIFE :
Candybarrel cactus is often consumed by cattle and rabbits if the spines are
removed by a disturbance such as fire [10,14,34].
Mule deer in the Sonoran Desert readily consume candybarrel cactus fruits.
Mule deer diets consisted of 35.6, 42.5, 5.4, and 1.9 percent candybarrel
cactus fruits in the fall, winter, spring, and summer, respectively
[24,25]. Collared peccary also consume candybarrel cactus fruits when they
are available .
Candybarrel cactus seeds are eaten by many birds .
NUTRITIONAL VALUE :
Candybarrel cactus fruits are reported to be highly digestible (greater than
50% of dry matter) by mule deer. The following in vitro dry matter
digestibility (DMD) and nutrient values (%) were reported for candybarrel
cactus fruits in different seasons on the Santa Rita Experimental Range
in southern Arizona :
Spring Summer Fall Winter
DMD 59.5 78.1 60.9 73.5
Protein 7.8 8.6 6.2 10.8
Phosphorous 0.20 0.21 0.18 0.23
P/Ca 0.65 0.48 0.47 0.61
COVER VALUE :
VALUE FOR REHABILITATION OF DISTURBED SITES :
OTHER USES AND VALUES :
Native Americans have used candybarrel cactus pulp for making jelly and
cactus candy [19,36]. Candybarrel cactus is extensively collected and used
in landscaping themes and cactus gardens .
OTHER MANAGEMENT CONSIDERATIONS :
Glendening  and Brown  reported that candybarrel cactus increased over
17- or 18-year periods, respectively, on desert grasslands of Arizona.
Both studies included treatments that excluded cattle and rabbits (no
grazing), excluded cattle only (light grazing), and contained areas open
to grazing. The following average numbers of candybarrel cactus plants under
each treatment were reported by Glendening  on the Santa Rita
No grazing Light grazing Open
1932 0 0.5 0.5
1949 30.5 24.0 5.0
Blydenstein  stated that there was no significant difference in
frequency of candybarrel cactus between lightly grazed desert shrub
communities and communities that had been protected from grazing for 50
Candybarrel cactus populations are negatively affected by urban development
and cactus collection .
BOTANICAL AND ECOLOGICAL CHARACTERISTICS
SPECIES: Ferocactus wislizeni
GENERAL BOTANICAL CHARACTERISTICS :
Candybarrel cactus is a native stem succulent that is barrel-shaped or
sometimes columnar with rarely more than one stem. It ranges from 2
to 10 feet (3 m) tall, with a diameter of 18 to 33 inches (45-83 cm).
Candybarrel cactus has 20 to 28 ribs. The spines are dense, somewhat
obscuring the surface of the stem. There are four central spines per
areole, the larger ones 1.5 to 2 inches (3.8-5.0 cm) long, and 12 to 20
radial spines to 1.8 inches (4.5 cm) in length. Flowers form on growth
of the current season near the stem apex. The fruit is yellow,
barrel-shaped, and fleshy at maturity [1,17,36].
According to Cannon , the root system of candybarrel cactus is shallow and
confined to the upper soil layers. At one site a main anchoring root
extended down to about 8 inches (20 cm) and had several short laterals.
Horizontal roots originated from the root crown and were very shallow.
Depth of burial decreased with distance from the plant and ranged from
0.6 to 1.2 inches (1.5-3.0 cm). Roots were often exposed after rain
RAUNKIAER LIFE FORM :
REGENERATION PROCESSES :
Glendening  stated that candybarrel cactus reproduces from seeds only,
which are dispersed by birds and rodents [10,38]. No offsets were
reported after fires in southern Arizona; growth was from the apical
meristem only . Ferocactus species will often branch at the apex
following injury to the terminal bud .
Limiting factors for germination of candybarrel cactus seeds are temperature
and light. Greatest germination takes place at 68 to 86 degrees
Fahrenheit (20-30 deg C) after at least 8 hours of light. Seeds do not
germinate in the dark .
SITE CHARACTERISTICS :
Candybarrel cactus is found on rocky, gravelly, or sandy soils of hills,
flats, canyons, wash margins, and alluvial fans in desert shrublands and
grasslands from 990 to 5,280 feet (300-1,600 m) elevation [1,35,38]. It
also extends into woodland communities occurring at elevations below
6,500 feet (1,970 m) . Candybarrel cactus is frost-sensitive , which
is a limiting site factor at higher elevations and northern latitudes.
SUCCESSIONAL STATUS :
Candybarrel cactus' life span has been reported to be from 50  to 130
years . It is a climax member of the desert grassland .
SEASONAL DEVELOPMENT :
Candybarrel cactus flowers sporadically in late spring and profusely in the
summer (July to September) [1,17].
SPECIES: Ferocactus wislizeni
FIRE ECOLOGY OR ADAPTATIONS :
Large succulents such as candybarrel cactus have a thick cortex that
insulates the vascular tissue. The cortex thickens with age, so older
individuals may be more resistant to fire than younger ones. Taller
individuals are more likely to survive fire because the apical meristem
may be above flame height. Cacti escape fire in refugia and in areas
with fuels too sparse to carry fire. Cacti do not appear to store seed
in soil seedbanks .
Although desert vegetation rarely burns completely due to a lack of
continuous fuels, unusually heavy winter rains may produce a cover of
annual species dense enough to carry a fire when cured. Fires resulting
from this situation tend to occur at the desert-desert grassland ecotone
, a common habitat of candybarrel cactus. Thomas  has cited
references suggesting that fire intervals in desert grasslands may be as
short as 3 to 40 years. Repeated fires may be disastrous to candybarrel
cactus populations, whose recovery period has been estimated at more
than 15 years . Most desert habitat does not produce enough
vegetation to support frequent fires. If frequent fires do occur they
gradually reduce succulent populations, although a small percentage of
individuals may survive in refugia .
FIRE REGIMES :
Find fire regime information for the plant communities in which this
species may occur by entering the species name in the FEIS home page
under "Find Fire Regimes".
POSTFIRE REGENERATION STRATEGY :
SPECIES: Ferocactus wislizeni
IMMEDIATE FIRE EFFECT ON PLANT :
Candybarrel cactus plants more than 1 foot (0.3 m) tall are rarely killed by
fire since only their spines are combustible. However, plants less than
that height may suffer up to 75 percent mortality as a direct result of
fire damage to the apical meristem, or a combination of fire damage to
the meristem and damage from herbivory .
Succculents in general rarely actually burn, but spines may ignite and
carry flames to the apex. The cactus body may scorch and blister
without pyrolysis, leaving undamaged parts of the plant alive.
Mortality results from death of the photosynthetic tissue and underlying
cambium and phloem. Cacti may appear completely scorched with no green
tissue visible, yet survive fire. However, fire can cause delayed
mortality, which may not occur for months or even years . Removal
of the spines also increases subsequent herbivory [23,30]. Survival of
succulents depends primarily on protection of the apical meristem. If
the apical meristem is undamaged, the cactus will resume growth .
PLANT RESPONSE TO FIRE :
Average mortalities of 50 to 67 percent have been reported for candybarrel
cactus within the first 2 years following fire in desert grassland and
desert shrub communities in southern Arizona [13,15,23,32,37].
Two consecutive winters of heavy rain produced enough fuel to carry a
fire in a portion of the Sonoran Desert where fire is usually considered
ecologically insignificant. Following the Granite Fire in Arizona in
June 1979, large-diameter cacti including candybarrel cactus had the lowest
mortality rate of all cacti. Many severely burned plants survived and
produced flowers and seeds. An average of 20 plants per hectare
occurred on unburned sites, and 15 plants per hectare occurred on burns
in postfire years 1 and 2. Candybarrel cactus had an overall mortality rate
of 59 percent in burned areas within the first 19 postfire months .
Candybarrel cactus had an average of 6 percent and 31 percent mortality on
unburned and burned sites, respectively, following fires in semidesert
grasslands on the Buenos Aires National Wildlife Refuge and in the
Sierrita Mountains of southern Arizona. Plants were counted within 11
to 14 postfire months. Candybarrel cactus also had significantly greater
(p<.001) fire mortality when under a mesquite (Prosopis juliflora) canopy
(53%) than in open grassy areas (19%) .
FIRE MANAGEMENT CONSIDERATIONS :
SPECIES: Ferocactus wislizeni
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