The fishhook barrel cactus is a rather common large barrel cactus found in the Sonoran and Chihuahuan Deserts of the American Southwest with a range stretching from Arizona through New Mexico to Texas, as well as south of the border into the northern parts of the Mexican states of Sonora and Chihuahua. As with many cacti, it has many regional names such as the Arizona barrel and biznaga-barril de Nuevo México and is found in open rocky ground, shrub-steppe, chaparral and at the base of desert hills and mountains where there is some gathering of water during seasonal rains. Mature plants can reach upwards of 5 feet tall, and live to 50 to 130 years, and as they get larger, they will tend to lean to face south or southwest-ward, which is why come people also call it the compass cactus. Vicious recurved spines (or "fishhooks") protect it from predators such as javelinas, and the fleshy yellow fruits are an important food source for birds, mule deer, and javelinas. This one was found and photographed between the Ajo and Puerto Blanco Mountains ranges in the Sonoran Desert in Southern Pima County, Arizona.
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