What type of cactus do I have?

Updated February 21, 2017

Cacti can be identified by their height, shape, and whether they produce flowers or not. The origin of the cacti can also help determine its species type, as not all forms grow everywhere. The same type of cacti can have different names; they always have a scientific name, and generally have a common name that is based on their overall appearance.

The Fishhook Cactus

The fishhook cactus, also known as the pincushion cactus, gets its name based upon the overall design of their spines. The spines hook towards the end, making them look like fishhooks. Fishhook cacti grow close to the ground in clumped formations. They can be located in their natural habitat, which is the deserts and hillsides of Arizona and California. Those who may have a fishhook cactus growing in their garden or yard will notice that they bloom during early spring. They are referred to as pincushion cacti because they resemble pincushions when growing on the ground.

The Totem Cactus

Those who own a totem pole cactus can identify it by its height and bumps. The totem pole cactus, also known as Pachycereus schotti monstrosus, has been known to grow as high as 12 feet. This form of cactus is not known to flower or seed. Native to the Baja California area, the totem pole cactus can also be found in the deserts of the Southwest. The bumps on the totem pole cactus give the illusion that faces have been carved into it, which is the inspiration for its name.

The Fishhook Barrel Cactus

The barrel cactus, also known as Ferocactus cylindraceus, is found in the deserts of the Southwest. They are also used as landscaping plants. The height of the barrel cactus ranges between 4 to 10 feet tall. The barrel cactus grows in groups and clusters, or singly. Each barrel cactus contains a flower that grows on the top of the plant. The flower grows in a circular configuration. The flowers are typically yellow, orange, or red in colour, and bloom between July and September. The spines are grey on the surface, and red underneath. Depending on the species, the central spines may form a hook shape. This species is known as the fishhook barrel cactus.

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About the Author

Based in California, Noel Shankel has been writing and directing since 2002. His work has been published in "Law of Inertia Magazine." Shankel has a Bachelor of Arts in film and writing from San Francisco State University.