The cylindrical stems of the strawberry cactus are 3–30 inches long and 1 1/2–4 inches in diameter. They grow in loose clusters of a few to as many as 100. New stems grow as side branches, near the ground, so their first growth tends to be lateral, later turning upward, giving them a long, curling appearance. There are 7–10 ribs on each stem. The plant is bright green with a wrinkled appearance, looking withered in dry periods. The stems are often yellow-green in sunny locations. The tubercles are about 1/8 inch in diameter and 1/4–1 1/2 inches apart on mature stems. This cactus has fewer spines and shows more plant surface than most cacti. The purplish-red flowers are 2–3 inches long and about the same in diameter. They have 10–20 outer petals with pinkish, crinkled edges. The inner petals, 12–35, are in 1–3 rows. Anthers on the stamens are yellow, and the pistil has 8–12 lobes like most other Echinocereus. The fruit is about 1 inch long, almost round, greenish to brown or purple.
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