List of types of cactus in Texas and what you need to know about them.
Cactus plants are marvels of design. These are the toughest plants in the world. Plants that are specifically designed to survive the harsh conditions of the desert. If a plant is going to survive in the desert then it must learn how to live for long periods without water. It must then make use of the little water it gets when it does rain. And must not lose water of tissue to predators such as grazing animals. The cactus manages to do all these and more, with the help of the most surprising tool- spikes. The spikes keep grazing animals from eating the plant and keep the plant from losing moisture through transpiration.
If you are a Texas resident reading this article then you are not here by chance. You must have become curious by seeing so many different types of cactus. Yes, the State of Texas is home to more species of Cactus than any other state in America.
Types Of Cactus In Texas
Living rock cactus (Ariocarpus fissuratus)
Look at the name again: ‘Living Rock’- and that is exactly what it is. Not a big rock, of course, but to the glancing eye, this plant can look like a rock that a person might pick up and throw. It largely sticks to the ground and has a flat, circular shape. The pointy leaves of this plant overlap perfectly to give a kind of scaly feel. The plant has brownish outer leaves while the green ones stay in the center.
Nipple beehive cactus (Coryphantha macromeris)
The nipple beehive cactus plant is a type of cactus that has small nipple-like balls (down the evolutionary timeline these could have been leaves) which are well protected by sharp pointy needles. The needles try to form a small ball that looks like a small beehive.
Nickels’ cactus (Coryphantha nickelsiae)
Nickles cactus are small, cactus plants that look entirely like brown balls of pointy needles pointing in every direction. All that pointiness is to protect the little greenery that this plant has. The plant does not grow tall but stays close to the ground.
Robust spine beehive cactus (Coryphantha robustispina)
This type of cactus bears a good resemblance to the nickles cactus which we have described above. The major difference is that this one grows into not one single ball of brown needles, but several balls of needles huddled together. This may give the appearance of a large beehive or that of several small beehives standing together.
Tree Cholla (Cylindropuntia imbricata)
This is a giant species of cactus plants. The cactus, instead of staying close to the ground chooses to grow into a big shrub, or can even be described as a tree. It is characterized by the enduring feature of cacti: the pointy spikes protruding out of its branches. Many birds seeking shelter from preditors have found themselves suddenly impaled by the pointy spikes.
Christmas Cholla (Cylindropuntia leptocaulis)
The Christmas cholla is a species of cactus that is closely related to the tree cholla which we have described above. It produces branches that are laden with deadly points of its spikes. But unlike its cousin this variety does not grow into a tree. It remains close to the ground, and can be described as a small shrub.
Eagle claws (Echinocactus horizonthalonius)
This cactus plant looks more like a poppy plant. As a major difference to any of the types of cacti that we have highlighted above, you can actually see the small green ball on the floor, with a small purple or violet flower on the top. But do not be tempted to pick it up; this plant is armed with sharp needle-like spikes that will do the damage.
Horse crippler (Echinocactus texensis)
The horse crippler is a kind of cactus plant that is similar to the eagle claw in size and also similar because of the purple flower which sits on top of it like a crown. In this species you can also see the greenery of the cactus, although this variety has a somewhat flattish appearance. It gets its name for the effect it has on horses who step on it.
Brown flowered cactus (Echinocereus chloranthus)
In the brown flowered cactus, there is greenery, although that greenery is completely covered with brown spikes. This is no doubt a cousin of the Nipple beehive cactus and the robust spine cactus species. This one is more beautiful however, because it has purple, funnel-shaped flowers around its body.
Scarlet hedgehog cactus (Echinocereus coccineus)
The scarlet hedgehog cactus is a kind of cactus that is basically brown spikes that is roughly the size of a hedgehog or squirrel. While the main structure brownish, the plant is decorated on all sides with small round flowers which give it a touch of beauty.
Lace hedgehog cactus (Echinocereus reichenbachii)
This type of cactus brings to mind small whitish balls that are clustered together. The balls have the white appearance because the spikes which are white are so many, and are closely huddled together. On top of the individual balls are funnel-shaped flowers which are made of individual petals that overlap closely to form a funnel.
Ladyfinger cactus (Echinocereus pentalophus)
This type of cactus is about the size of a football, but has small protrusions, like studs, on all sides. The whole plant is covered with white or cream-colored spikes to protect the valuable center.
Fendler’s hedgehog (Echinocereus fendleri)
This type of cactus is a couple of oblong balls that stand upright, and which are not too closely huddled together. They have long spikes protruding from the bodies, but the spikes are not too densely packed together.
Green strawberry hedgehog (Echinocereus enneacanthus)
This is one of the more popular and more widely distributed types of cactus. It stands upright and can grow to about 3 feet. the stalk is smooth and long, while there are long needles coming out of its body, although quite sparsely.
Lace hedgehog cactus (Echinocereus reichenbachii)
Lace hedgehog cactus are very similar to Fendler’s hedgehog (Echinocereus fendleri) which we have already described above. This too can be described as a couple of oblong balls that stand upright, and that are well spaced out. The major difference is that the spikes or needles on this particular species are much shorter, and the body of this species has a much greener look.
Other types of cactus in Texas are:
- Strawberry hedgehog cactus (Echinocereus stramineus)
- Nylon hedgehog cactus (Echinocereus viridiflorus)
- Warnock’s fishhook cactus (Echinomastus warnockii)
- button cactus (Epithelantha micromeris)
- Cob beehive cactus (Escobaria tuberculosa)
- Big Bend prickly pear (Grusonia aggeria)
- Chihuahuan fishhook cactus (Glandulicactus uncinatus)
- Arizona barrel cactus (Ferocactus wislizeni)
- Texas barrel cactus (Ferocactus hamatacanthus)
- Common beehive cactus (Escobaria vivipara)
- Devil cholla (Grusonia Emoryi)
- Graham’s club cholla (Grusonia grahamii)
- Arizona fishhook cactus (Mammillaria grahamii)
- lacespine pincushion cactus (Mammillaria lasiacantha)
- Little pincushion cactus (Mammillaria meiacantha)
- rat-tail pincushion cactus
- rat-tail pincushion cactus (Mammillaria pottsii)
- Chenille prickly pear (Opuntia aciculata)
- Rio Grande prickly pear (Opuntia aureispina)
- Purple prickly pear (Opuntia azurea)
This is not an exhaustive list of types of cactus in Texas. The first section are some of the types of cactus that you are likely to run into in Texas. Following that, we also mention other types that are not necessarily less popular or abundant, and may or may not be as well distributed as those that have been highlighted above.