Saguaro ( Carnegiea gigantea )

The Saguaro ( Carnegiea gigantea ) is perhaps one of the most iconic member of the cacti family in the south west desert, and located primarily in Arizona. The giant desert guardian stands watch over the hot dry desert and exudes a quiet nobility which matches its environment perfectly. The slow growing giants can reach heights exceeding 35 feet in height. These pinnacles of stature are due in no doubt to their long life span of up to 200 years. The largest known Individual was measured at 78 feet tall before it was toppled in 1986 from high winds.

A monster Saguaro ( Carnegiea gigantea) - Photo by Sister Cecilia Joseph Wight
A monster Saguaro ( Carnegiea gigantea) – Photo by Sister Cecilia Joseph Wight

Like many other stem succulents, the Saguaro survives the dry climates by optimizing its water retention. Large tap roots anchor the plant to the ground and can harvest water from over 100 feet beneath the surface. The water is pulled into the cactus body and causes the the body to swell which enables the plant to survive long period of drought without water.

A single trunk of the saguaro is known as a spear, and the cacti can stay this way up to 75 years before the first arm is branched from the trunk. The cactus will bloom in the spring months of April, May and June. The white flowers of this plant will form only at the top of each branch and form a crown of beauty. The flowers open in the cooler nights after the sun was dropped below the horizon. Nectar is produced is encourage pollination from a variety of animals. The flower will close again by midafternoon. The flower is the state flower for the State of Arizona.

Saguaro Cacti break the evening skyline near Tucson Arizona - Photo by Sister Cecilia Joseph Wight
Saguaro Cacti break the evening skyline near Tucson Arizona – Photo by Sister Cecilia Joseph Wight

This cactus is protected by the State of Arizona, and sadly needs to be. The US Government created Saguaro National Park in 1994 to protect some of the population and its habitat.

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