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Echinocereus engelmannii (Engelmann's hedgehog cactus)
Sherman, Doug

Echinocereus engelmannii

Echinocereus engelmannii (Parry ex Engelm.) Lem.

Engelmann's Hedgehog Cactus, Saints Cactus, Hedgehog Cactus, Strawberry Cactus, Strawberry Hedgehog Cactus, Purple Torch

Cactaceae (Cactus Family)



USDA Native Status: L48 (N)

The 4-12 in., cylindrical, ribbed stems of saints cactus or hedgehog cactus may occur singly or in small clusters. Curved spines may be red, yellow, white or gray. Large, tubular flowers, which open during the day and bloom for several consecutive days, range from bright magenta to pale pink. A fleshy, spiny, red fruit follows.

Englemann's is one of the most common hedgehog cacti found in the southwestern deserts. Its purple to magenta flowers and four well-armed central spines help to identify it. Nine varieties are recognized, based on stem size, central spine characteristics, and flower size. One of the most conspicuous and exceptional varieties is var. nichollii, which has golden yellow spines and tall slender stems. Echinocereus engelmanii blooms in April and May.

The species of this plant is named for George Engelmann (1809-1884) who was born in Germany and settled in St. Louis, Missouri, as a young man. He was a physician and botanist, describing especially North American Abies (Firs), Agaves, Cactus (for which he described more than 108 species), Cuscuta (Dodder), Euphorbiaceae (Spurge Family), Juncus (Rushes), Juniperus (“Cedar”), Pinus (Pines), Vitis (Grapes), and Yuccas. When he died much of his collection went to Missouri Botanical Garden.


From the Image Gallery

13 photo(s) available in the Image Gallery

Plant Characteristics

Duration: Perennial
Habit: Cactus/Succulent
Fruit Type: Berry
Size Notes: Up to 12 inches high.
Flower: Flowers 2-3 1/4 inches long and over 3 inches across.

Bloom Information

Bloom Color: Red , Pink
Bloom Time: Mar , Apr , May , Jun
Bloom Notes: Diurnal flowering.


USA: AZ , CA , NV , UT
Native Distribution: S. UT to s. CA, s. to AZ and n. Mex.
Native Habitat: Rocky & brushy plains, canyons, outwash fans & hillsides

Growing Conditions

Water Use: Low
Light Requirement: Sun
Soil Moisture: Dry
Soil Description: Sandy, rocky or gravelly soils.


Description: Easily propagated from seed.
Commercially Avail: yes

From the National Organizations Directory

According to the species list provided by Affiliate Organizations, this plant is on display at the following locations:

Santa Barbara Botanic Garden - Santa Barbara, CA


Bibref 1140 - Cacti (1991) Clive Innes and Charles Glass

Search More Titles in Bibliography

From the Archive

Wildflower Newsletter 1993 VOL. 10, NO.5 - Plant Now for Spring Beauty, Director's Report, Wildflower Center Offers Educati...

Additional resources

USDA: Find Echinocereus engelmannii in USDA Plants
FNA: Find Echinocereus engelmannii in the Flora of North America (if available)
Google: Search Google for Echinocereus engelmannii


Record Modified: 2010-09-09
Research By: TWC Staff

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