This species is found only in Baja California, Mexico. A subspecies, Ferocactus gracilis ssp. gatesii, is found only on islands in the mouth of Bahia de los Angelas in the Gulf of
California near the southern tip of Baja California.
Identification: Plants are singular, globe-shaped or cylindrical, up
to 5' (1.5 m) high and 12" (30 cm) in diameter. The spine groups are a little complicated. Each group
consists of a set of small white radial spines, nearly flat against the cactus, emanating like spokes on a wheel
from the areole. Above this are larger, more haphazardly oriented central spines. The central spines are reddish
with yellow tips, dominated by four large spines up to 2½" (7 cm) long, at right angles to each other. 3-9 smaller central spines are also present. The central spines are flattened, often curved near the tips, and minutely ridged.
Flowers are funnel-shaped, red, 1½" (4 cm) × 1¼" (3.5 cm).