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Sclerocactus parviflorus


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of Cacti and Succulents.

RP108 from Green River, Emery County, Utah, USA
 Strong grower, very attractive with great colourful spines.

Description:  This is the most frequent and well known cactus of the cold American deserts. Due to its vast region of origin the plants vary in the amount and colouring of hooked central spines as well as in flower colour. The plant dimensions vary from minuscule plants of only a few cm living almost buried in the ground, to the largest plants up to 45cm and 15 cm in diameter. The scientific classification of this plant has been controversial. Many names, forms, subspecies or varieties have been proposed and changed.
usually unbranched, but also branched near the base, depressed-spheric, spheric, cylindrical, or elongated-cylindric, with tubercles evident on ribs.
Spines: often obscuring stems; radial spines 8-17 per areole, usually white, sometimes brown or purplish pink, 6-36 mm; central spines 4-8 per areole, 1-5 hooked usually purple- black, hooked, 15-72 mm; lateral spines 2-6 per areole, similar to centrals, usually shorter and not not hooked usually white (rarely gray, straw colored, pink, or reddish brown), flat to angled straight (rarely contorted.
Flowers: The crown of campanulate flowers in late spring are spectacular, usually rose to purple, pink, but also multicolour, yellow or (rarely) white.
Fruits: green turning reddish pink with a few scales.


A plant in Habitat (photo by Wilfried Stolz)

  Rarely seen in cultivation, it needs perfect drainage to flourish.  It is quite difficult to grow on its own roots and to propagate (only 2-3 percent of seeds germinate ). Mature individuals easily rot and die.
It is indispensable to provide a greenhouse with good ventilation and full sun exposure. Keep totally dry during winter.  It can tolerate temperature below zero (-20° C). Plants grafted on hardy Opuntia compressa stock are quite easy to grow, and no special skill is required.

Propagation: Seeds are extremely difficult to germinate  (only 2-3 percent of seeds germinate)Grafting is often used to speed growth rate and to create a back-up for plants in collection.
A young plant grafted on Opuntia compressa...  and an adult one.



Photo of conspecific taxa, varieties, forms and cultivars of Sclerocactus parviflorus .


Photo gallery: Alphabetical listing of Cactus and Succulent pictures published in this site.

Photo gallery SCLEROCACTUS




Family: Cactaceae (Cactus Family)

Scientific name:  Sclerocactus parviflorus Clover & Jotter
Published in: Bulletin of the Torrey Botanical Club 68: 419, fig. 8.  1941.

Conservation status: Listed in CITES appendix 2. 

Common NameDevil’s-claw cactus, small flower fishhook cactus.

Taxon synonyms

  • Sclerocactus parviflorus  Clover & Jotter 1941
  • Echinocactus parviflorus  (Clover & Jotter) L.D.Benson 1950 in: Cacti of Arizona, ed. 2, 102, 1950.
  • Ferocactus parviflorus  (Clover & Jotter) N.P.Taylor 1979
  • Pediocactus parviflorus  (Clover & Jotter) Halda 1998.

Origin:  S. parviflorus is the most widely distributed species among the genus, it ranges from Arizona to Colorado, New Mexico and Utah. Habitat:  distributed mostly along the great river system above the 1000 m up to 2100m over sea level, live on many type of soil, such Sandy, gravelly, or clay hills, mesas, and washes, desert grasslands, red sand under sparse junipers trees, on cracked clay plains etc.  

Etymology: The generic name "Sclerocactus" derives from the Greek word “sclero”   meaning "hard ", "cruel” referring to the hard seed tegument or to the formidable spines, and the word “cactus” (an old genus name) ( The genus name implies: "hard cactus").
The specific name "parviflorus" derives the Latin word “parvus” that  means "small" and from “florus” the past participle of the Latin verb “floreo" meaning "to flower"
Named in the 30s by Clover and Jotter
, S. parviflorus is the
translation of the Latin, "small-flowered", a misnomer, whereas this species has small flowers only in relationship to the larger bloomer of the genus: S. polyancistrus



New spines


from the natural habitat of S. parviflorus
Photos courteously provided by Scott F. Smith.


Heterotypic synonyms:

  • Sclerocactus contortus  K.D.Heil 1979
    Published in : Cact. & Succt. J. (US) 51:25-30, 1979.
  • Sclerocactus cloverae  K.D.Heil & J.M.Porter 1994
  • Pediocactus cloveriae  (K.D.Heil & J.M.Porter) Halda 1998
  • Sclerocactus cloverae subsp. brackii  K.D.Heil & J.M.Porter 1994
  • Pediocactus cloverae subsp. brackii  (K.D.Heil & J.M.Porter) Halda 1998
  • Sclerocactus whipplei var. aztecia
  • Sclerocactus whipplei var. heilii
  • Echinocactus parviflorus var. havasupaiensis (Clover) L. D. Benson
  • Sclerocactus parviflorus subsp. havasupaiensis (Clover) Hochstätter
  • Echinocereus parviflorus var. roseus (Clover) L. D. Benson
  • Sclerocactus havasupaiensis Clover var. roseus Clover
  • Sclerocactus intermedius Peebles Leafl. West. Bot.5:191, 1949
  • Sclerocactus parviflorus  subsp. intermedius (Peebles) Heil & Porter L. Benson
    Published in: Haseltonia, 2. 20-46, 1994
  • Sclerocactus parviflorus var. intermedius (Peebles) D. Woodruff & L. D. Benson
    Published in: Cact. & Succt, J. (
    US) 48 (3):133, 1976.
  • Sclerocactus parviflorus subsp. terrae-canyonae (K. D. Heil) K. D. Heil & J. M. Porter
  • Sclerocactus terrae-canyonae K. D. Heil
  • Sclerocactus. whipplei  var. intermedius (Peebles) L. D. Benson
    Published in: Cact. & Succt. J. (
    US) 48 (3):138-139, 1976.
  • Sclerocactus whipplei var. roseus (Clover) L. D. Benson
  • Sclerocactus parviflorus Clover & Jotter var. blessingiae Earle
    Published in: Saguaroland Bull. 34 (3): 29, 1980
Home | E-mail | Plant files | Mail Sale Catalogue | Links | Information | Search

All the information and photos in cactus art files are now available also in the new the Enciclopedia of Cacti. We hope you find this new site informative and useful.