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Ferocactus hamatacanthus (Turk's head)
Loughmiller, Campbell and Lynn

Ferocactus hamatacanthus

Ferocactus hamatacanthus (Muehlenpf.) Britton & Rose

Turk's Head, Turk's Head Cactus, Texas Barrel Cactus, Giant Fishhook Cactus

Cactaceae (Cactus Family)


USDA Symbol: FEHA2

USDA Native Status: L48 (N)

In its early stages of growth the Turks head is rather round, but it becomes columnar as it reaches maturity, often about 8 inches tall and 8 inches in diameter. It usually has a single stem but occasionally will branch. It has 13-17 large, broad ribs with tubercles up to 2 inches high. Out of the tubercles grow 8-14 outer spines and 4-8 central ones, the lowest of which is extremely long, up to 6 inches, and hooked on the end. The flowers are 2 1/2-4 inches tall almost as wide, and fragrant, though one should be steady on one’s feet when smelling them. There are up to 30 inner petals, which are long and wide, but pointed at the tip. They are yellow, sometimes red at the base. The pistils and the anthers are yellow. The pistils extend beyond the stamen.


From the Image Gallery

23 photo(s) available in the Image Gallery

Plant Characteristics

Duration: Perennial
Habit: Cactus/Succulent
Fruit Type: Berry
Size Notes: Up to about 2 feet tall, often shorter.
Flower: Yellow; reddish underneath the outer petals, 3 inches across.

Bloom Information

Bloom Color: Red , Yellow
Bloom Time: Jun , Jul , Aug , Sep , Oct
Bloom Notes: Diurnal.


Native Distribution: Along Rio Grande from mouth of Devil's River to El Paso, TX. Also northern Mexico.

Growing Conditions

Water Use: Low
Light Requirement: Sun
Soil Moisture: Dry
Heat Tolerant: yes
Conditions Comments: Minimum temperature 45 F


Use Ornamental: Attractive, Blooms ornamental, Desert landscape
Conspicuous Flowers: yes

Wildflower Center Seed Bank

LBJWC-PM-8 Collected 2010-07-02 in Presidio County by Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center

1 collection(s) available in the Wildflower Center Seed Bank


Bibref 1140 - Cacti (1991) Clive Innes and Charles Glass
Bibref 248 - Texas Wildflowers: A Field Guide (1984) Loughmiller, C. & L. Loughmiller

Search More Titles in Bibliography

Web Reference

Webref 38 - Flora of North America (2019) Missouri Botanical Garden, St. Louis, MO & Harvard University Herbaria, Cambridge, MA.
Webref 23 - Southwest Environmental Information Network (2009) SEINet - Arizona Chapter

Additional resources

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


Record Modified: 2023-02-10
Research By: TWC Staff

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