Probably the most well known barrel cactus is the golden barrel, Echinocactus grusonii with its bright yellow spines. Its unusual coloring makes it a popular container plant or a point of interest in the garden. Unlike some of the native barrels with their green color and strong fishhook thorns the golden barrels' thorns are more of a gentle curve.
A Tucson gardener has said this:
The native Fishhook barrel, Ferocities wislizenii, is common around the Tucson desert and produces large clusters of showy flowers either yellow, red or orange in color. A bright, many seeded pineapple like fruit follows the flower which birds and other desert wildlife eat. The thorns of the fishhook barrel can be treacherous especially around pets.
I once heard a scream in my back yard and had to run outside to see what could be in so much distress. On closer inspection I found a young woodpecker stuck to the cactus with the hooked thorns penetrating the wings. I used pliers to pull the thorns from the cactus and then cut them from the bird. On its release the woodpecker ended up hopping off not flying.