Solitary or clumping, forming large clumps, generally
less than 50, but occasionally of several hundred stems.
is very variable, and the several varieties are so different-looking that
the only uniting factor is the bright red bloom and rounded petals.
Stems: Light green, often tinged with red, cylindrical tapering
toward the tip, each stem up to 30 cm tall, 7 cm in diameter.
Ribs: 9 to 13, usually 10 well defined
ones, low, either tuberculate or
Areoles: Approximately 1-1.5 cm apart, and somewhat woolly.
Central spines: 1 to 7, yellowish or brown, expanded basally,
straight, elongated, becoming grey as they age, reaching up to 5 cm long,
but variable in length.
Radial spines: 6 to 17 (usually about 12), dirty white or reddish,
often overlapping, up to 2 cm long but often much shorter.
Flowers: Diurnal, arising near the stem's apex, tubular to funnel-form, brilliant pinkish-orange to deep red with
yellowish or whitish colored throat, 3-14 cm long, 3-8 cm in diameter, ovary and tube
with yellowish spines and abundant cobwebby wool in the axil of the
scales, which is lacking in other similar species.
Blooming season: Apr-Jun, the flowers remain open for 2 or 3 days.
Blooming generally begins 5 to 10 years after sowing, as the plant
Fruits: Ovoid, green, with white pulp, indehisent and edible.
Remarks: Originally this
species was incleded in
Echinocereus triglochidiatus, a name used for a large group of
diploid and polyploid taxa treated as conspecific by L. D. Benson (1969,
1982). The tetraploids are now recognized distinct species
E. coccineus, including
Engelmann of Mexico.
varieties and forms:
E. polyacanthus ssp.
polyacanthus tends to be smaller flowered, with flowers 3-7
cm in diameter.
It occurs throughout the range of the species.
E. polyacanthus ssp. acifer has flowers 6-8
and occurs in northern, central and western Mexico.
E. polyacanthus ssp. huitcholensis has flowers
4-8 cm in
diameter. It occurs west of the Sierra Madre occidental, in western
E. polyacanthus ssp. pacificus has small
up to only three cm long.
It occurs in Baja California.