Fine Art

Kroenleinia grusonii

Kroenleinia grusonii, Photo: Michael Lahanas

Classification System: APG IV

Superregnum: Eukaryota
Regnum: Plantae
Cladus: Angiosperms
Cladus: Eudicots
Cladus: Core eudicots
Ordo: Caryophyllales

Familia: Cactaceae
Subfamilia: Cactoideae
Tribus: Cacteae
Genus: Kroenleinia
Species: Kroenleinia grusonii

Kroenleinia grusonii (Hildm.) Lodé, Cactus-Aventures International (102): 25, 27 (2014).

Echinocactus grusonii Hildm., Monatsschr. Kakteenk. 1: 4 (1891).
Echinocereus grusonii (Hildm.) Von Zeisold, Monatsschr. Kakteenk. 3: 141 (1893).
Ferocactus grusonii (Hildm.) Guiggi, Cactology 5(Suppl. 12): 1 (2021).

Echinocactus corynacanthus Scheidw., Allg. Gartenzeitung 9: 50 (1841).
Echinocactus galeottii Scheidw., Allg. Gartenzeitung 9: 50 (1841).
Echinocereus grusonii var. azureus Von Zeisold, Monatsschr. Kakteenk. 3: 141 (1893).
Echinocactus grusonii var. albispinus Y.Itô, The Cactaceae: 503 (1981).
Echinocactus grusonii var. horridus Y.Itô, The Cactaceae: 505 (1981).
Echinocactus grusonii var. intertextus Y.Itô, The Cactaceae: 505 (1981).
Echinocactus grusonii var. subinermis Y.Itô, The Cactaceae: 505 (1981).


A putative allopolyploid with chromosome reduction, originated from Echinocactus platyacanthus Link & Otto and Echinofossulocactus glaucescens DC. (Mottram 2014).
Native distribution areas:

Continental: Northern America
Regional: Mexico
Mexico Northeast (Queretaro).

References: Brummitt, R.K. 2001. TDWG – World Geographical Scheme for Recording Plant Distributions, 2nd Edition
Primary references

Lodé, J. 2014. A new genus for a well-known cactus: Echinocactus grusonii. Cactus-Aventures International (102): 25, 27.
Hildmann, H. 1891. Monatsschrift für Kakteenkunde. 1: 4.

Additional references

Anderson, E.F. 2001. The Cactus Family. 776 pp., Portland, OR: Timber Press. ISBN 0-88192-498-9. Reference page.
Hildmann, H. 1886. Deutsche Gart.-Zeitung 5(3): 27 (-28).
Mottram, R. 2014. Allotaxa of the Cactaceae. The Cactican 5: 1–29 PDF.
Korotkova, N., Aquino, D., Arias, S., Eggli, U., Franck, A. , Gómez-Hinostrosa, C., Guerrero, P.C., Hernández, H.M., Kohlbecker, A., Köhler, M., Luther, K., Majure, L.C., Müller, A., Metzing, D., Nyffeler, R., Sánchez, D., Schlumpberger, B. & Berendsohn, W.G. 2021. Cactaceae at Caryophyllales. org–a dynamic online species-level taxonomic backbone for the family. Willdenowia 51(2): 251–270. DOI: 10.3372/wi.51.51208 Open access Reference page.


Korotkova, N. et al. 2021. Kroenleinia grusonii in Cactaceae at A global synthesis of species diversity in the angiosperm order Caryophyllales. Published online. Accessed: 2021 Nov 16. Reference page.
Govaerts, R. et al. 2021. Kroenleinia grusonii in Kew Science Plants of the World online. The Board of Trustees of the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew. Published online. Accessed: 2021 Mar 15. Reference page.
International Plant Names Index. 2021. Kroenleinia grusonii. Published online. Accessed: Mar 15 2021. 2021. Kroenleinia grusonii. Missouri Botanical Garden. Published online. Accessed: 15 Mar 2021.
Hassler, M. 2021. Kroenleinia grusonii. World Plants: Synonymic Checklists of the Vascular Plants of the World In: Roskovh, Y., Abucay, L., Orrell, T., Nicolson, D., Bailly, N., Kirk, P., Bourgoin, T., DeWalt, R.E., Decock, W., De Wever, A., Nieukerken, E. van, Zarucchi, J. & Penev, L., eds. 2021. Species 2000 & ITIS Catalogue of Life. Published online. Accessed: 2021 Mar 15. Reference page.
USDA, ARS, Germplasm Resources Information Network. Kroenleinia grusonii in the Germplasm Resources Information Network (GRIN), U.S. Department of Agriculture Agricultural Research Service. Accessed: 09-Oct-10.
Hassler, M. 2021. World Plants. Synonymic Checklist and Distribution of the World Flora. . Kroenleinia grusonii. Accessed: 16 Nov 2021.

Vernacular names
Deutsch: Goldkugelkaktus, Schwiegermuttersitz
English: Golden Barrel Cactus, Golden Ball, Mother-in-Law's Cushion
español: Asiento de Suegra, Bola de Oro, Barril de Oro, Cactus Erizo
suomi: Kultasiilikaktus, anopinjakkara
français: Ballon d'Or, Belle Mère, Coussin de Belle Mère
magyar: Óriás sünkaktusz
italiano: Cuscino della Suocera
日本語: キンシャチ(金鯱)
svenska: Svärmors Kudde

Echinocactus grusonii or Kroenleinia grusonii, popularly known as the golden barrel cactus, golden ball or mother-in-law's cushion, is a species of barrel cactus which is endemic to east-central Mexico.

It is rare and endangered in the wild, where it is found near Mesa de León in the state of Querétaro, and in the state of Hidalgo.[1] The population was critically reduced in the 1990s, by the creation of the Zimapán Dam and reservoir in Hidalgo.[1] The cactus grows in volcanic rock on slopes, at altitudes around 1,400 metres (4,600 ft).[1]


Echinocactus grusonii belongs to the small genus Echinocactus, which together with the related genus Ferocactus, are commonly referred to as barrel cacti. The species was first described by German plantsman Heinrich Hildmann in 1891. While sometimes referred to as golden ball, this species is not to be confused with Notocactus leninghausii which have fuzzy, harmless spines and are native to Brazil and Paraguay.

Recent phylogenetic studies have found that Echinocactus grusonii is probably polyphyletic with respect to the rest of Echinocactus, and is probably derived from hybrids between Echinocactus and Ferocactus. To correct this, Echinocactus grusonii has been moved to its own genus, and under this scheme the correct name would be Kroenleinia grusonii Lodé.[2] However, not all authorities have accepted this move so far.[3]

Growing as a large roughly spherical globe, Echinocactus grusonii may eventually reach over 1 metre (3.3 ft) in height after many years. Younger Golden Barrel plants do not look similar to mature specimens. The generation lifetime is estimated to be 30 years.[1]

There may be up to 35 pronounced ribs in mature plants, though they are not evident in young plants, which may have a knobbly appearance. The sharp spines are long, straight or slightly curved, and various shades of yellow or, occasionally, white.

Small yellow flowers appear in summer around the crown of the plant, but only after twenty years or so.
Golden barrel cacti at the Huntington

Echinocactus grusonii is widely cultivated by speciality plant nurseries as an ornamental plant, for planting in containers, desert habitat gardens, rock gardens, and in conservatories.[4] A white-spined form, and a short-spined form, are also in cultivation.

It is one of the most popular cacti in cultivation and has increasingly become popular as an architectural accent plant in contemporary garden designs.[citation needed]

The cactus is considered easy and relatively fast growing in warmer climates around the world. The plants do have some basic requirements; an average minimum winter temperature of 12 °C (53.6 °F); and good drainage with less watering in winter.[4] Excess water in cool periods may lead to rot. Golden Barrels are hardy to about −8 °C (15 °F) for brief periods.

Beyond Central Mexico, Echinocactus grusonii specimens may also be seen in collections of desert plants in many botanical gardens. In the UK it has gained the Royal Horticultural Society’s Award of Garden Merit.[5][6]

Mature golden barrels showing their distinctive clustering habit. Photo from the Huntington Desert Garden in California.

Mature golden barrels showing their distinctive clustering habit. Photo from the Huntington Desert Garden in California.
Closeup of the top.

Closeup of the top.
Echinocactus grusonii, a nearly spineless form

Echinocactus grusonii, a nearly spineless form
Echinocactus grusonii spine detail at the United States Botanic Gardens

Echinocactus grusonii spine detail at the United States Botanic Gardens
Stereoscopic crossview of a golden barrel cactus.

Stereoscopic crossview of a golden barrel cactus.
Spine detail

Spine detail
Flower detail

Flower detail
Fruit detail

Fruit detail

Mature golden barrel in cluster form in a greenhouse in Kalimpong

Mature golden barrel in cluster form in a greenhouse in Kalimpong

See also

Cacti of Mexico


Guadalupe Martínez, J.; Sánchez , E.; Gómez-Hinostrosa, C. (2013). "Echinocactus grusonii". IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. 2013: e.T40962A2947851. doi:10.2305/IUCN.UK.2013-1.RLTS.T40962A2947851.en. Retrieved 12 November 2021.
Lodé, J. (2014). "Kroenleinia gen. nov. J. Lodé: a new genus for a well-known cactus: Echinocactus grusonii". Cactus Adventures International. 102: 25−29.
Vargas-Luna, Mario Daniel; Hernández-Ledesma, Patricia; Majure, Lucas Charles; Puente-Martínez, Raúl; Hernández Macías, Héctor Manuel; Bárcenas Luna, Rolando Tenoch (2018). "Splitting Echinocactus: Morphological and molecular evidence support the recognition of Homalocephala as a distinct genus in the Cacteae". PhytoKeys (111): 31–59. doi:10.3897/phytokeys.111.26856. PMC 6246732. PMID 30483031.
[1] Archived 2013-01-04 at the Wayback Machine . accessed 6.30.2013
"RHS Plantfinder - Echinocactus grusonii". Retrieved 12 January 2018.

"AGM Plants - Ornamental" (PDF). Royal Horticultural Society. July 2017. p. 33. Retrieved 14 February 2018.

Preston-Mafham, Rod & Ken (1992). Cacti: The Illustrated Dictionary. Blandford Press. ISBN 978-0-7137-2092-1.

Plants, Fine Art Prints

Plants Images

Biology Encyclopedia

Retrieved from ""
All text is available under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License

Home - Hellenica World