Echinocactus lecontei Engelmann, Proc. Amer. Acad. 3: 274. 1856.
Echinocactus wislizeni lecontei Engelmann in Rothrock, Rep. U. S. Geogr. Surv. 6: 128. 1878.
Becoming cylindric, 2 meters high or more, rather slender; ribs numerous, 20 to 30, somewhat undulate; areoles longer than broad; some of the radial spines thread-like or bristly; the other radials and the central spines flattened and flexible, usually appressed against the plant, most of them ascending, rarely if ever hooked, white to red; flowers originally described as yellow, also reported as red, 5 to 6 cm. long; fruit oblong, yellow; seeds minute, less than 2 mm. long, black, shiny, reticulated, slightly compressed.
Type locality: Lower parts of the Gila in western Arizona.
Distribution: Southern California along the Colorado, northern Lower California, Sonora, and east into Utah and Arizona. The geographic limits of the plant are ill-defined. It seems to overlap or at least to interlock with the western range of F. wislizeni, while the dividing line of the west between it and the following species is unknown to us.
The species always has been confused with Ferocactus wislizeni, some writers considering it a distinct species, others only a variety or form, while Engelmann treated it at one time as a species and at another as a variety. We believe that it will eventually be proven to be a distinct species. This is the consensus of opinion of good field observers who have visited the western deserts.
The following differences have been reported and, while they may not all hold, some of them certainly do: F. lecontei is said to be taller and slenderer; the spines more flexible and flattened, perhaps never hooked; the flowers smaller, perhaps red instead of yellow; the seeds smaller and more reticulated.
F. lecontei albispinus (Monatsschr. Kakteenk. 17: 32. 1907) and var. hagei (Monatss-chr. Kakteenk. 4: 114. 1904) are only names. F. wislizeni phoeniceus Kunze (Monatsschr. Kakteenk. 23: 8. 1913) and var. albus (Monatsschr. Kakteenk. 17: 118. 1907) may belong here.
This species was named for Dr. John Lawrence Le Conte (1825-1883) who first noticed the plant on the Lower Gila in Arizona.
Illustrations: Bull. Geol. Surv. 613: pl. 38, B; Monatsschr. Kakteenk. 9: 67; Schelle, Handb. Kakteenk. 168. f. 98, as Echinocactus wislizeni lecontei; Watson, Cact. Cult. 107. f. 38; ed. 2. 249. f. 93; Gartenflora 32: 148; Deutsche Gärt. Zeit. 7: 53; Garten-Zeitung 4: 243. f. 56; Pac. R. Rep. 4: pl. 2, f. 3 to 5; Monatsschr. Kakteenk. 4: 43; 20: 71; 22: 5; Cact. Journ. 2: 102; Cact. Mex. Bound. pl. 27; Rümpler, Sukkulenten 117. f. 64; Dict. Gard. Nicholson 1: 500. f. 691; Förster, Handb. Cact. ed. 2. 211. f. 18; 511. f. 62, as Echinocactus lecontei.
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