Are golden barrel cactus poisonous: find out now!

Are Golden Barrel Cactus Poisonous: Find Out Now!

Are golden barrel cactus poisonous? When asked to imagine a cactus, most people immediately think about a greenish plant with sharp needles all over its surface. Cactus spines look rather disturbing, so it’s not a secret that for humans a cactus might look like a poisonous plant.

However, you might not have known that most cacti cannot do any harm to you and their needles are innocuous. Of course, it should not be taken for granted in all cases! The toxicity of every plant depends on the type of cactus.

Are Golden Barrel Cactus Poisonous
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Let’s dive into this spiky subject and find out whether barrel cactus is better to bypass.

Anatomy of a cactus: what parts are dangerous?

To get a better grip on cacti, you should be aware of what parts a cactus can contain. Depending on these parts, one type is less dangerous while the others are indeed poisonous cacti.

Cactus spines

Cactus spines are what bothers people most – and not without reason. Although most cacti don’t contain any poisonous substances in the needles, the spines still can prove to be dangerous.

Everybody can be punctured by cactus spines. Not mentioning the pain resulting from a puncture, you can come across much more disturbing implications.

Cactus needles are not sterilized – outdoors their surface collects all the dust and various bacteria. So if a person or an animal gets prickled accidentally, the wound might become infected. Among far-reaching consequences may be blood infection, necrosis of the tissues, and even amputation.

To avoid such complications, treat your wound immediately after getting it! If you notice troubling symptoms, contact the doctor.

Some types of this plant have small and hair-like needles, which are stuck in the tissues very tightly if touched. Such cactus needles and soft spikes like that on barrel cacti can provoke skin irritation.

Besides, some cactus species, like the Cholla cactus, have unique protection mechanisms. This species shoots needles when the situation gets dangerous for the plant.


It is a wide-known fact, that cactus fruits are frequently and eagerly eaten. Similar to the needles, most cacti fruits aren’t poisonous.

Though a Fishhook barrel cactus is a poisonous cacti species, its products can be consumed. Moreover, cactus fruits can be not only edible but also very nutritious.

barrel cactus fruit
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With certain types, everything is not so clear. Let’s look at the Cholla cactus and Prickly pear cactus: basically, you can consume their fruits and not get poisoned, but it is not recommended. Fruits of such cacti are covered with tiny needles as described above. That is why you can feel discomfort after eating them or even handling them not thoroughly.

For people, a cactus really has edible fruit. But for pets, they are not recommended. Animals can suffer from severe vomiting up to the point of fatal outcomes after eating the fruits of some cacti.

Flesh and sap

Every Barrel cactus has the shape of a Barrel and so-called ribs. In them and the other parts of its trunk dangerous substances can accumulate. So it is not the best idea to eat cacti.

Here is the list of possible implications of getting in contact with this plant:

  1. Allergic reactions

Some people might suffer from allergies if they eat some cactus.

  1. Stomachache and diarrhea

Some plants have toxic sap in their flesh. We mentioned that if touched these species can irritate your skin. Basically, because of this sap and the fact that it is not suitable for consumption, eating it can be risky. Among species with such features are Saguaro cactus and Prickly pear – but they aren’t poisonous cacti.

  1. Vomiting

You can view this as a complication of the previous point. But vomiting also may happen when you drink cactus water. So better avoid it.

  1. Hallucinations

Some of the most poisonous cacti are the San Pedro cactus, Peyote cactus, and Peruvian torch cactus. There are toxic sap and chemicals accumulated in their stem.

The most deadly one is mescaline, which is a toxin that leads to delusions when consumed. There can also be alkaloids in these cacti that work like alcohol and provoke nausea.

  1. Temporary paralysis

The distinctive feature of the already mentioned Fishhook Barrel cactus except for pointy spines is its flesh that contains toxins. This substance can cause temporary paralysis. Thankfully, only these cacti are capable of that.

Are Golden Barrel Cactus Poisonous
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Is barrel cactus poisonous?

Barrel cactus is a very attractive plant. Professional and amateur gardeners both often choose it as a decoration. This member of the Cactaceae family truly deserves it – its unique shape and bright flower buds are worth it.

However, many people who are looking at the barrel cactus wonder whether having it as a garden plant or just touching it is safe. The definite answer can’t be given here.

The ribs and body of a barrel cactus contain sap, that resembles latex. This latex-like liquid easily causes skin irritation if touched. But unlike the Peyote cactus, San Pedro cactus, Peruvian Torch cactus, and Cholla cactus, the barrel cactus has no lethal toxins in itself. That is it can’t poison you.

Barrel cacti, children and pets

Another issue that bothers those who want to buy a barrel cactus is its safety for children and pets. Sometimes it is challenging to control your kids or animals all the time, so you wish to assess the risks and take measures in advance.

Barrel cactus needles pose a greater danger to these vulnerable living beings than to adults. Since these cacti possess sharp spines it is relatively easy for children and pets to get prickled. And without proper treatment, the open wound might become a nuisance.

Apart from that, children and pets should be prevented from eating any parts of these cacti, including seeds. Their organisms are weaker than that of an adult, which is why consuming cacti is much more harmful to them.

All in all, barrel cacti aren’t the most poisonous cacti. Be prepared and they will become pretty loveable neighbors with humans.

Are Golden Barrel Cactus Poisonous
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Frequently Asked Questions

Is Golden Barrel cactus toxic to cats?

This type of cacti is not toxic to cats unlike, for example, Peyote cactus. However, if your cat decides to chew the cactus or touch its spines, it can result in certain health problems. The cat might get wounded or slightly intoxicated because of the sap.

Are barrel cactus poisonous to dogs?

Just like with cats, eating barrel cactus may lead to certain digestive problems, and touching it causes skin irritations. This species doesn’t belong to poisonous cacti and in most cases cannot provoke a fatal outcome. With proper thoughtfulness and decent control over the pet, it won’t get hurt because of a cactus.

What to do if pricked by barrel cactus?

Depending on whether your plant has long spines, the wound might be extremely painful. In any case, you must first remove the spines from your skin and wash it with soapy water. If it is a fishhook barrel cactus, you might want to get help from a professional. If your wound shows signs of infection, contact the doctor and get antibiotic ointment.

What is the Most Dangerous Cactus?

People have different opinions on that. Some say that the Saguaro cactus is the leader because it’s dangerously high and has prominent tall straight stems. The San Pedro cactus and Peyote cactus contain mescaline, widely known as a psychedelic hallucinogen. Cholla cactus can shoot its spines. Prickly pear cactus irritates your skin. All of them can be poisonous plants.

Are golden torch cactus poisonous?

These cacti are not poisonous to humans. They are very attractive plants with white flowers that are rather safe for people. What is even better, every fruit it produces is edible. However, you should be careful if you have pets, as for them this plant might be harmful.


There are so many types of cacti, but most of them can’t hurt you. Some plant types like Prickly pear or Barrel cactus can’t be considered truly poisonous cacti, since they might cause only skin problems or wounds if treated inaccurately. Other types that contain mescaline, like Peyote cactus, might lead to severe implications.

In general, for humans, they are not as deadly as for animals. If you are in Mexico or taking a peek into the Sonoran desert, be careful with local cacti. Better watch them and appreciate their beautiful flowers in the distance.

You might also like:

? Poisonous Cacti List

? What Animal Eats a Cactus Plant

? Do Cactus Produce Oxygen

? How Deep Do Cactus Roots Go

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