Saguaro   1 comment

The saguaro cactus (Carnegiea gigantea) is one of the defining plants of the Sonoran Desert. These columnar cacti can develop branches (or arms) as they age, but some never grow arms. The arms usually bend upward, and a single saguaro can have over 25 arms. Saguaros are covered with protective spines, and their late-spring flowers are the state flower of Arizona.

The most important factors for growth are water and temperature. If the elevation is too high, the cold weather and frost can kill the saguaro. Although the the Sonoran Desert experiences both winter and summer rains, it is thought that the Saguaro obtains most of its moisture during the summer rainy season.

With the right growing conditions, it is estimated that saguaros can live to be as much as 150-200 years old.

Saguaro are very slow growing cactus. A 10 year old plant might only be 1.5 inches tall. Saguaro can grow to be between 40-60 feet tall. When rain is plentiful and the saguaro is fully hydrated it can weigh between 3200-4800 pounds.

Shots taken in the Tonto National Forest north of Apache Junction, AZ.

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