Fish-hook Cactus

Blooming fish-hook cactus in front of a rock
Fishhook Cactus in bloom

VIP Carla DeKalb

Fishhook Cactus (Sclerocactus parviflorus)

Other Names: smallflower fish-hook cactus, eagleclaw cactus, devil claw cactus

Family: Cactaceae (Cactus Family)

Description: single stems are 4 inches thick and up to 10 inches tall. Stems have 13-15 spiral ribs with spines clustered in areoles, each of which contains 4 central spines and 7-11 radial spines. Pink or purple flowers are produced throughout April and May. Some cacti may produce yellow flowers.

Range: occurs throughout Utah, Arizona, Colorado, and New Mexico. Look for it growing in Colorado National Monument's eastern regions, especially at lower elevations on metamorphic rock. These cacti can also be found in nearby McInnis Canyons.

Did you know: the fish-hook cactus's scientific name, Sclerocactus ("hard cactus" in Greek), refers to this cactus's hard, dry fruit. At maturity, the reddish fruit of the fish-hook cactus splits irregularly, releasing small dark brown or black seeds.

A fishhook cactus in bloom.
Fishhook Cactus in Bloom

NPS VIP Carla DeKalb

Last updated: June 4, 2023

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