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Vascular Plants of California
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Sclerocactus polyancistrus

Higher Taxonomy
Family: CactaceaeView DescriptionDichotomous Key
Habit: Perennial herb, shrub, tree, generally fleshy. Stem: cylindric to spheric, or flat; surface smooth, tubercled, or ribbed (grooved); nodal areoles bearing flowers. Leaf: generally 0 or early-deciduous, flat to +- cylindric. Spines: areoles generally with central, radial spines, occasionally with glochids. Flower: generally 1 per areole, bisexual [unisexual], sessile, radial [bilateral]; perianth parts generally many [5], scale-like to petal-like; stamens many; ovary inferior [superior], style 1, stigma lobes generally several [many]. Fruit: dry to fleshy or juicy, indehiscent to variously dehiscent, spiny, scaly, or naked; tubercled or smooth. Seed: generally many, occasionally 0--few.
Genera In Family: +- 125 genera, +- 1800 species: America (especially deserts), Africa; many cultivated, some edible. Note: Spines smaller, fewer (0) in shade forms; yellow spines blacken in age. Introduced species increasingly escape cultivation. Hybridization common in some genera. Taxa of Escobaria in TJM (1993) moved to Coryphantha.
eFlora Treatment Author: Bruce D. Parfitt, except as noted
Scientific Editor: Bruce D. Parfitt, Douglas H. Goldman, Bruce G. Baldwin, Thomas J. Rosatti.
Genus: SclerocactusView DescriptionDichotomous Key

Habit: Erect or ascending, branches generally 0. Stem: 5--20 cm, 2--12 cm diam, ovoid to cylindric, not segmented, firm; ribs 8--21, prominent; tubercles distinct along ribs. Spines: [2]10--24 per areole, 0.3--2.1 mm diam, needle-like or awl-shaped, straight to curved or hooked; central spines 1--11 per areole. Flower: +- terminal, from upper edge of spine cluster, 25--75 mm diam; perianth +- green-yellow to magenta; ovary glabrous, spineless, scales sparse, rounded, ciliate at least near tip. Fruit: dehiscent by 2--4 short longitudinal slits, cylindric to +- spheric, spines 0. Seed: 2--3.7 mm, reniform, tubercled, glossy or shiny, black.
Species In Genus: +- 25 species: southwestern United States, Mexico. Etymology: (Greek: hard or cruel cactus)
eFlora Treatment Author: J. Mark Porter & Edward F. Anderson
Sclerocactus polyancistrus (Engelm. & J.M. Bigelow) Britton & Rose
Stem: 10--45 cm, cylindric; ribs 13--17. Spines: white, red, or dark +- red-brown; central spines of 2 kinds, hooked central spines 5--10 cm, red-brown, distal-most central spines 3.7--8.6(13) cm; radial spines 10--15 per areole, 2--5 cm, 0.3--0.5 mm wide at base, white, flat. Flower: rose-purple to magenta. Fruit: 20--30 mm, 15--20 mm diam; scales narrow, ciliate near tip.
Ecology: Limestone areas, hills and canyons, alluvial slopes; creosote-bush scrub, Joshua-tree woodland; Elevation: 750--2100 m. Bioregional Distribution: W&I, DMoj; Distribution Outside California: Nevada. Flowering Time: Apr--Jun
Unabridged Synonyms: Echinocactus polyancistrus Engelm. & J.M. Bigelow
Jepson eFlora Author: J. Mark Porter & Edward F. Anderson
Index of California Plant Names (ICPN; linked via the Jepson Online Interchange)
Listed on CNPS Rare Plant Inventory

Previous taxon: Sclerocactus johnsonii
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Botanical illustration including Sclerocactus polyancistrus

botanical illustration including Sclerocactus polyancistrus


Citation for this treatment: J. Mark Porter & Edward F. Anderson 2012, Sclerocactus polyancistrus, in Jepson Flora Project (eds.) Jepson eFlora,, accessed on August 15, 2022.

Citation for the whole project: Jepson Flora Project (eds.) 2022, Jepson eFlora,, accessed on August 15, 2022.

Sclerocactus polyancistrus
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© 2014 Neal Kramer
Sclerocactus polyancistrus
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© 2003 Larry Blakely
Sclerocactus polyancistrus
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© 2016 Barry Rice
Sclerocactus polyancistrus
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© 2012 Steve Matson
Sclerocactus polyancistrus
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© 2014 Neal Kramer
Sclerocactus polyancistrus
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© 2008 Gary A. Monroe

More photos of Sclerocactus polyancistrus in CalPhotos

Geographic subdivisions for Sclerocactus polyancistrus:
W&I, DMoj
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2. County and Jepson Region polygons can be turned off and on using the check boxes.
map of distribution 1
(Note: any qualifiers in the taxon distribution description, such as 'northern', 'southern', 'adjacent' etc., are not reflected in the map above, and in some cases indication of a taxon in a subdivision is based on a single collection or author-verified occurence).


Data provided by the participants of the  Consortium of California Herbaria.
View all CCH records
All markers link to CCH specimen records. The original determination is shown in the popup window.
Blue markers indicate specimens that map to one of the expected Jepson geographic subdivisions (see left map). Purple markers indicate specimens collected from a garden, greenhouse, or other non-wild location.
Yellow markers indicate records that may provide evidence for eFlora range revision or may have georeferencing or identification issues.

CCH collections by month

Duplicates counted once; synonyms included.
Species do not include records of infraspecific taxa, if there are more than 1 infraspecific taxon in CA.
Blue line denotes eFlora flowering time (fruiting time in some monocot genera).