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Echinocereus

Hedgehog Cactus
Cactaceae
Cacti and succulents

Nearly 50 species of hedgehog cactus grow in the southwestern U.S. and northern Mexico, with some growing at fairly high elevations in Utah and Colorado, where they are subject to freezing temperatures. All have cylindrical, ribbed bodies in clumps; showy red, yellow, purple, or white flowers with many rows of petals; and fleshy fruit, edible in some species. Although cold hardy in most zones, and often seen in collections, they are used in landscaping chiefly in desert or interior mountain gardens.

Echinocereus engelmannii (photo courtesy of Scott Calhoun)
Echinocereus engelmannii (photo courtesy of Scott Calhoun)

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Echinocereus engelmannii

Clumps up to 1–2 ft. tall and 3 ft. wide, with 3–4-in.-thick stems. Lavender to deep purplish red flowers 2–3 in. wide. Inch-long red fruits are edible.

Echinocereus triglochidiatus ‘Melanacanthus’ (photo courtesy of Denver Botanic Gardens)
Echinocereus triglochidiatus ‘Melanacanthus’ (photo courtesy of Denver Botanic Gardens)

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Echinocereus triglochidiatus

Grows in clumps up to 1 ft. tall and 3 ft. wide, with hundreds of spiny, 2–3-in.-diameter stems. Orange to red, 3 1/2-in. flowers appear in early summer and are followed by inedible pink to red fruit.

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