The Saguaro Cactus

The Saguaro Cactus is one of the most common plants you will find in the Sonoran Desert. You may notice many of these are large, tree-like cacti as you hike the McDowell Sonoran Preserve near Ancala. A Saguaro can have over 25 arms and are covered with protective spines, white flowers in late spring and red fruit in the summer. They are exclusive to the Sonoran Desert. Water and temperature are the most important factor in growth of these plants, weather that is too cold can kill them easily. The Saguaro Cactus obtains most of its water during the summer season.

The Saguaro can live to be as much as 150-200 years old and grows very slowly. A ten- year old cactus might only be 1.5 inches tall. They can grow to be between 40-60 feet tall and can weigh between 3,200 to 4,800 pounds. After a Saguaro dies, its woody ribs can be used to build roofs, fences and parts of furniture. Many birds nest in the dead saguaros. Remember, Saguaro’s are protected by the state of Arizona and there are strict regulations about the harvesting, collection or destruction of this species.

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