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Pediocactus simpsonii (Simpson hedgehog cactus)
Reveal, James L.

Pediocactus simpsonii

Pediocactus simpsonii (Engelm.) Britton & Rose

Simpson Hedgehog Cactus, Mountain Ball Cactus

Cactaceae (Cactus Family)



USDA Native Status: L48 (N)

Although pediocactus simpsonii has a wide geographic distribution, from Oregon and Montana south to Arizona and New Mexico, the cactus is still relatively uncommon, growing in high elevation locations, often in small, localized areas, frequently obscured by grass and fallen leaves. The plant may form clusters but usually remains solitary, starting as a neat globe, becoming elongated and cylindrical when aged (up to 10 inches tall).

The 15 to 35 white radial spines are thin and short, while the 4 to 11 central spines are thicker, longer (up to 3/4 inch), and brown or yellow at the tips; all grow from pronounced tubercles, arranged in spirals. Spine cover tends to be dense, nearly or completely obscuring the green stems, though in some specimens the spines are much shorter, and fewer in number.

The plant's appearance changes greatly in different locations, and several sub species have been proposed, but distinguishing features are so variable across the 900 mile range that precise identification is difficult.

This cactus is fairly popular with collectors. Other species of the genus are rare. Mass collecting of cacti is inexcusable, but even the person who digs only one has a detrimental effect, for if many take only "their share" eventually entire plant populations are depleted.

Description provided courtesy of The American Southwest.


From the Image Gallery

11 photo(s) available in the Image Gallery

Plant Characteristics

Duration: Perennial
Habit: Cactus/Succulent
Size Notes: Up to 10 inches tall.
Flower: Yellow at the center, white to pink around the edges, up to 1 inch long.
Size Class: 0-1 ft.

Bloom Information

Bloom Color: Pink , Yellow
Bloom Time: May , Jun , Jul , Aug
Bloom Notes: Diurnal.


USA: AZ , CO , ID , MT , NM , NV , OR , SD , UT , WA , WY
Native Distribution: The Rocky Mountains, from south Montana to north New Mexico; also scattered locations in Oregon, Nevada, Utah and Arizona.
Native Habitat: Grassland, sagebrush flats, pinyon-juniper woodland; up to 11,000 feet elevation.

Growing Conditions

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

Find Seed or Plants

Find seed sources for this species at the Native Seed Network.

From the National Organizations Directory

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

Native Seed Network - Corvallis, OR


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

Search More Titles in Bibliography

Web Reference

Webref 15 - The American Southwest (1994) John Crossley

Additional resources

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


Record Modified: 2018-08-30
Research By: TWC Staff

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