A common and useful kind, the shape and often the size of a barrel, covered with spines. The Indians cut off the top of the plant and pound the pulp with a stick into a soft mass, which they squeeze with their hands, extracting a large amount of watery juice, which is wholesome and not unpalatable and has often saved lives in the desert. Indians use the spines for fish-hooks, hence a common name, Fishhook Cactus, and the celebrated cactus candy is made from it. The flowers are large.

There are many kinds of Echinocereus, oblong or cylindrical, spiny plants, generally a few inches tall, usually growing in clumps; stems ridged, or with spiny ribs; fruits spiny.