When Echinocactus grusonii was discovered and named in the late 1889, it was dug by the thousands and shipped all over North America and Europe to botanic gardens, palaces and private homes of collectors. As a result, there was concern for both this plant and its native habitat before the beginning of the 20th century. In 1990, populations of Echinocactus grusonii were the focus of an intensive rescue effort in the Rio Moctezuma Valley in Mexico. This valley, one of the few remaining habitats of the golden barrel cactus, was scheduled to be flooded after the construction of a major dam. Although there are very few Echinocactus grusonii in the wild today, off-site conservation has allowed for widespread propagation by nurseries and botanical gardens, and the golden barrel cactus is now one of the most popular cacti in cultivation.