Top 10 Little-Known Spiral Cactus Types (with Photos)

spiral cactus

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Interestingly, many cacti grow in a perfect spiral shape with swirls like a corkscrew. 

The most widely recognized is probably the Cereus validus spiralis, but there are many others.

In this article, we have found 10 gorgeous cacti that grow in a perfect geometrical shape. 

Save this article to find your favorite to add to your collection.

1. Cereus Forbesii Spiralis

Common names: Twisted cactus, spiral cactus

The spiral cactus is the most well-known for its spiral shape.  It forms an upward anticlockwise spiral, twisting around the main stem and crinkling in on itself.

This cactus is an attractive blue-green color, and its stems sometimes grow outward in curves, although many stems are straight, with the ribs spiraling around the central trunk. Some grow in a corkscrew shape.

It can reach a mature height of 13 feet (3.9 meters).

The ribs are covered with spines.  And the flowers are white or pink, with delicate petals.

2. Lophocereus Schottii Spiralis

Common names: Totem pole, totem cactus, totem pole cactus, monstrous whisker cactus

This cactus takes the form of a tall, single pole, with twists swirling up the post in an anticlockwise direction. They run the full length of the central pole.

It grows to a maximum of 22 feet (7 meters), although most don’t get quite this big, and instead reach a standard of 9-13 feet (3-4 meters).

It is a slow-growing plant with long, sharp gray bristles at the tips of the mature stems. It has a waxy surface, and flowers overnight.

The cactus produces edible fruits that are bright red.

It grows in the desert regions in Mexico and is also sometimes found in southern parts of Arizona.

3. Cereus Validus Spiralis

Common names: Contorted cereus, spiraled cereus, twisted cereus

This cactus grows flattened, tall ribs that twirl around its main stem in anticlockwise spirals.

This cactus produces multiple arms or columnar stems with a rich emerald-green color and can grow to around 5 inches (12.5 cm) across.  It has short spines that form all the way up the spirals.

The cactus can grow to a height of 16.5 feet (5 meters).

Its flowers are white and pink, and create an impressive show of large blooms, often near the center of the cactus.

After the plant has finished blooming, it will produce red fruits, which are edible and fragrant.

4. Astrophytum Asterias

Common names: Star cactus, sea urchin cactus, star peyote, sand dollar cactus

This rounded cactus grows ribs that form a slight anticlockwise spiral around its main body. Some specimens are straighter than others, and the segments don’t have a significant swirl.

It tends to only reach heights of around 6 inches (15 cm).

It’s a slow-growing cactus and grows vertical ribs around its main body.

The flowers are yellow and form a single bloom at the top of the cactus.

This cactus is native to the United States and Mexico.

Star cactus (Astrophytum Asterias)
Star cactus (Astrophytum Asterias)
(CactiLegacy, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons)

5. Eulychnia Castanea Varispiralis

Common names: Unicorn horn cactus, unicorn cactus

This cactus forms a tall, single stem, with twists running anticlockwise around the whole length. On some specimens, the twists are almost horizontal bands, while on others, they slope upwards more steeply.

It grows long, brown spines between its spirals.

It is a tall cactus, reaching around 6.5 feet (2 meters) when it is fully mature, with a diameter of just over 2 inches (6 cm) across. 

It has a medium green color, and produces large white flowers.

Because it forms just one central pillar, it looks rather like a unicorn horn.

6. Crassula Estagnol Spiralis

Common name: Spiral succulent

The spiral succulent has small, green pointed leaves that overlap each other in an attractive geometric pattern and spiral up the central stem in an anticlockwise direction.

Individual stems branch off in different directions. 

The flowers are usually tiny and bright pink.

It is a tiny, slow-growing cactus that can reach a mature height of only around 5 inches (12 cm) high.

7. Euphorbia Spiralis

Common names: Spiral euphorbia

The Euphorbia Spiralis has multiple arms along the main stem and has spiny ribs that grow in a clockwise swirl around the central stem and arms.

At the top of the central stem and the arms, a bunch of alien-looking, fleshy leaves spring out in various directions.

It can reach up to a mature height of 12 inches (30 cm) tall, and around 1 inch (3 cm) across.

The flowers are yellow-green and are produced on woody stalks that stick out from the plant’s main trunk.

It comes from Yemen, from the island of Socotra.

8. Cereus Peruvianus Spiralis

Common name: Majestic pillar

This straight-trunk cactus spirals to the left, forming a tight anticlockwise swirl. Sometimes, the trunk also curves and curls to one side or the other.

It is a large and tall cactus that can reach an impressive mature height of 13 feet (4 meters).

It grows between 5 and 9 ribs, widely spaced around the stem.

The blooms are beautiful, in striking pink color and with pointed petals.

This is a very attractive cactus with tight swirls and spines.

9. Ferocactus Herrerae

Common name: Twisted barrel cactus

With spines and ribs growing in an anticlockwise shape, this is a tall and fat cactus, shaped just like a “barrel”.

It can grow up to 10 feet (3 meters) tall, and is usually around 24 inches (60 cm) in diameter.

Not all of these cacti grow with twists, but many do.

It is a spectacular blooming cactus, with an intense flame-red and orange color.

It is very spiny, with long, sharp spikes protruding from its body in rosettes.

Ferocactus Herrerae
Ferocactus Herrerae
(H. Zell, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons)

10. Myrtillocactus Geometrizans Cristatus

Common names: Dinosaur back plant, crested blue flame, crested blue myrtle, crested blue candle

The ribs on this plant grow like curving waves in both directions, swirling over and under each other.  Its stem has a waxy texture.

It can reach an impressive 14 feet (4.5 meters) and the crown can reach an incredible 16 feet (5 meters) across.

It usually begins to bloom when it gets to around 23 inches (60 cm) tall.

It produces dark red, oblong fruits that are very sweet.

Myrtillocactus Geometrizans Cristatus
Myrtillocactus Geometrizans Cristatus
(Grün Stadt Zürich, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons)


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