Rather unkindly referred to by many as mother-in-law's armchair, but more charitably known as the golden barrel cactus. Echinocactus grusonii is one of the best known of all cacti. Young plants raised from seed normally lack the appearance of the mature plant having much more coarsely spaced, somewhat tuberculatc areoles and less distinct ribs, the latter developing with age. This is partly because the areoles are quite distant from one another and this prevents the true shape of the ribs becoming apparent until the areoles are numerous enough to form a continuous band.

The bodies are globular and cultivated plants are normally solitary although occasionally the crown will split and a branched appearance can result. Ultimately they attain a height of over 4 ft (1 -25 m) but since this height is usually matched by an equivalent width they are unlikely to reach this size when cultivated in pots. The stems are light green, and mature plants can have up to twenty-five prominent ribs. They can be easily raised from seed and grow quickly at first but later, as they tend to fill in with more ribs, growth becomes slower. The spines are straw yellow at first becoming stouter and whiter with age. Younger plants have fairly weak spines but on mature specimens the central spines arc really quite vicious. The flowers are yellow but they arc seldom, if ever, produced on pot-grown specimens as the plant has to attain some size before it is able to flower.

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