The Saguaro Cactus

The Saguaro Cactus

Saguaro cacti, Carnegiea gigantea, only grow in the Sonoran Desert which includes Arizona, part of eastern California and much of northern Mexico. They are most abundant at elevations ranging from 1,500 to 3,000 feet. Saguaros grow very slowly, usually only about 1-2 inches per year for the first decade.

The Saguaro will begin to produce flowers after about 35 years but will not grow “arms”
until it’s at least 50 years old. In drier areas, arms may not appear until the Saguaro is 100
years old. An “adult” Saguaro is one that’s lived 125 years. The average life span is about 150 years but some have lived for over 200 years.

One of the ironies of this majestic desert plant is that the majority of a Saguaro is made
up of water. Its root system, only inches under the ground, absorbs as much water as any rain will produce. For this reason, an adult Saguaro can weigh several tons.

The Saguaro provides a home for many birds, including hawks and owls which are able to
excavate nesting areas in the Saguaro’s pulpy flesh. Even deer and rabbits will eat the outside flesh when other water sources are scarce.

It’s comforting to know that the Saguaro is not in any way an endangered plant species but
thrives in abundance in the beautiful Sonoran Desert.

But enough seriousness! Start turning the pages and watch these Saguaros come to life and turn a little bit “crazy” just like all of us.