Calico Hedgehog, Strawberry Hedgehog
Cactaceae, Cactus Family
Succulent to 2 ft. tall by 3 ft. wide
Sonora and Mojave deserts of southwestern U.S. and northern Baja California
Rocky soil of hillsides, canyons and washes
Living Desert Location:
The show stopping flowers form sweet red fruits.
Echinocereus engelmannii is a cylindrically stemmed, very spiny clump-forming cactus species. There are 5 to 6 varieties of this hedgehog recognized, depending on the author. Strawberry hedgehog is a common name for this group because of the sweet flavor of their ripe fruits. The clumps of this species can have from 3 to 60 individual stems or stem offshoots, and can reach 2 feet tall by 2 to 3 feet wide. The stems can be from 2 to 4 inches thick. The red-violet or fuchsia colored flowers are 2 to 3 inches long and wide and quite beautiful. Echinocereus plants are often highly prized for the beauty of their flowers. The edible, spiny fruits turn red when ripe and are usually plentiful. They are considered a delicacy by both man and animal, as the fruit is high in sugars and the seeds are high in fats.
Hedgehog cacti are found in rocky soil of hillsides, canyons, and washes at elevations of 600 to 8,000 feet. A Coachella Valley native, they are also found in Arizona, southern Nevada, southwestern Utah, as well as in Baja California.