A couple of years ago we moved to the Tucson area where the cactus grow tall and their needles are in Mother Nature’s sewing kit to pierce heavy leather. Saguaro (Carnegiea gigantea) are the world’s largest cactus so we’ll dedicate this post them. These gentle giants of the desert are amazing. Not only do they grow to 40 feet tall, but they also have arms that can curl around to look like a hug, or even a chair. Be aware though, if you sit on one you will never sit anywhere else for quite sometime. Their two inch needles will leave you with many holes in your backside.

Here are a few fun facts about the saguaro:

  • Saguaro is pronounced suh-waa-row.
  • They grow slowly. Only about 1-2″ per year.
  • When fully hydrated a mature cactus can weigh 3,200 – 4,800 pounds
  • The root system is pretty shallow (5-6 inches deep), but it stretches outward as far as the plant is tall. It does have a single tap root that will extend into the ground a few feet. Considering how tall these gentle giants are, that’s not very deep.
  • The woody skeleton can be used to thatch a roof, build a fence, or furniture parts.
  • “Saguaro Boots” (holes that birds built their nests) can be used as a water container.
  • A saguaro can have anywhere from zero arms to over 25 and usually curve upward.

One particular saguaro that I love to see is the crested saguaro. This is something that a few saguaro like to do, but not all. It is unclear why this happens but every now and again a saguaro’s growing tip (that’s the top) produces a fan like form. They are somewhat rare, and there are a few “hunters” who have spent years documenting and counting these amazing cactus. There are a few right near Tucson and I have (so far) seen three out of the thousands that are in the area.



Filed under Gardening, Plants

2 responses to “Cactus

  1. Vidya Tiru

    I love seeing the saguaro and didn’t know about that fan-like shape (will keep an eye out for those next I see some).. And I do have a tiny patch of my garden for various cacti (the only thing I have a green thumb for!!)
    My C post is here

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