Advanced Arid Exotics

North-West Sydney, NSW, Australia. Specialising in advanced, mature examples of Echinocactus Grusonil (Golden Balls)

Echinocactus Grusonii

  • This is the definitive barrel cacti, hence the most common name golden balls. Best suited for formal and mixed succulent planting, it is noted for its beauty, robust nature and attractive presentation both in flower or not. It is long-lived and drought and fire resistant. Like bonsai plants it appreciates in value with age and can be handed down as an heirloom.
  • They originally come from Central Mexico and are superb desert plants requiring minimal care. Our plants are cross pollinated to suit a temperate weather climate and have proven to grow well from Cairns to Hobart and Alice Springs to Bondi.

 

Golden Balls in habitat Mexico
Golden Balls in habitat Mexico showing a natural scattered mass planting. Now very rare due to poaching.

Size and Growth Rates

  • They can reach 1 metre in height in 100 years under excellent conditions. At full maturity they are globose to oval in shape with clumps of pups (off-shoots) at the base. They are generally solitary plants but do come in 2, 3 and 4 multi-headed forms from seed. We hold stock of all these forms.
  • Under good conditions with strong stock, suitable soil and nutrients they will reach the following sizes in the garden from seed. Our plants grow faster due to selected stock and controlled conditions.
Growth Rate

260 mm + in 10-15 years
450mm + in 25-30 years
600mm + in 40-50 years
Diameter measured minus spines

Plant Characteristics

  • Round compact and covered with rows of even spines in clusters
  • Up to 35 pronounced ribs with age with a thick tough skin. Skin thickens with age.
  • Spines yellow to white. 3 to 5 cm radial and 4 to 6 mm central in each cluster with mature plants.
  • Felted areoles around spines and white woolen growing center with age increasing with age.
  • Rings of yellow 4 to 6cm flowers annually near crown flowering through summer by day and open for many days
  • Retains old flower buds and seed pods to form concentric growth rings. Seed pods bright red.
  • Pale to dark green skin across surface, even in colour
  • Selected stock withstands temperatures from -3 degrees C to full summer extremes.
  • Concave apex with age filled with wool up to 6 cm deep.

Typical growth centre with woolen core
Typical growth centre with woolen core, spent flowers and next years flowers coming through as white fluffy bumps.

Its wool not spines that defines a cacti. This is known as Cactus cotton and used by the Indians. Golden balls produce large amounts of it around seed pods.
Its wool not spines that defines a cacti. This is known as Cactus cotton and used by the Indians. Golden balls produce large amounts of it around seed pods.

Growing Particulars

  • Individual plants vary a lot in shape and spination ranging from oval, round and squat with age.
  • Plants become resistant to nearly all pests as they mature.
  • Mature plants require almost no attention and can go many months without water at all, especially in cooler months.
  • Will thrive even in reduced light but slower in growth.
  • Can produce extra ribs with age and small plants (pups) at base.
  • Flowers spiral out of the center and first appear as white woollen bumps.

* NOTE

  • Having done plantings for Botanical Gardens we are happy to help buyers with any hints required to ensure safe planting, successful landscaping planning and maintenance into the future without cost.

Typical flower , wool and seed pod on plants crown
Typical flower, wool and seed pod on plants crown

 

 

Spines and the crown of spent flowers
Spines and the crown of spent flowers

[Click on images for a larger view]

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