Regularity: Regularly occurring
Global Range: New Mexico, Texas, northeastern Mexico. In Texas, the range extends "from near Brownsville to Eagle Pass, NE to the edge of the Hill Country near Camp Wood, and on W past the Devils River" (Powell and Weedin 2004). In Mexico, the range includes Nuevo León, Tamaulipas (Flora of North America Editorial Committee 2003), and part of Coahuila east of the Chihuahuan desert and the Sierra Madre Oriental (Powell and Weedin 2004).
The northernmost distribution in Otero, New Mexico and El Paso, Texas is taken from Benson (1982) and has not been confirmed since.
Comments: In soils from igneous rock and on old river gravels in the desert and grasslands.
Habitat and Ecology
Number of Occurrences
Note: For many non-migratory species, occurrences are roughly equivalent to populations.
Estimated Number of Occurrences: 21 - 80
Comments: Seventy-five EO's (Benson 1982).
The ecology of species in this genus make it likely that this specie will utilize favorable microhabitat in association with nurse plants.
Life History and Behavior
All Ferocactus species produce fleshy-fruits which are consumed and dispersed by animals (Valiente-Banuet and Godinez-Alvarez 2002).
National NatureServe Conservation Status
Rounded National Status Rank: NNR - Unranked
NatureServe Conservation Status
Rounded Global Status Rank: G4 - Apparently Secure
Reasons: Widespread throughout New Mexico, Texas and northeastern Mexico.
IUCN Red List Assessment
Red List Category
Red List Criteria
Comments: Most cacti subject to horticultural collecting.
Ferocactus hamatacanthus forms to be solitary, usually a globular to oblong shape, and grows up to 60 centimetres (24 in). This plant contains 13 ribs normally, but can sometimes be around 17. These ribs of the cactus are strongly tubercled and are generally 2 centimetres (0.79 in) to 3 centimetres (1.2 in) high. Its aeroles are large and 1 centimetre (0.39 in) to 3 centimetres (1.2 in) apart. There are about 12 radial spines, 5 centimetres (2.0 in) to 7 centimetres (2.8 in) long, that are acicular and terete. However, there are fewer central spines, only 4, that tend to be angled and elongated at around 15 centimetres (5.9 in). One of the central spines is hooked at its apex as well.
This cactus' flowers are large, usually 7 centimetres (2.8 in) to 8 centimetres (3.1 in), and display a yellow color with an inner scarlet color in some forms. This cactus also produces a fruit that is oblong, 2 centimetres (0.79 in) to 5 centimetres (2.0 in) long, fleshy, edible, and a dark brown to drab-color (not red). In addition to these features, its seeds are pitted. 
Ferocactus hamatacanthus develops elongated glands, usually 2 centimetres (0.79 in) to 4 centimetres (1.6 in), in the aeroles between the flower and the spines. At first, these glands are soft, but as they mature they become hard and spine-like. Another key feature is the difference of its fruit compared to other species. The fruit of this species is thin and the flesh is very juicy and edible, reminiscent of kiwis in flavor.