The Top 10 Saguaro Cactus Facts

Ashley | 08 - 12 - 2020
The Top 10 Saguaro Cactus Facts

Saguaro cactus, you must have seen it many photographs and it is something that reminds us of the beauty of the American West and deserts of the Southwest. If you are someone who is a fan of the saguaro cactus then you must know these interesting facts. 

  1. Where do saguaro cactus grow? Saguaro cactus is a tree-like cactus that is native to the Sonoran desert in Arizona but they do not grow in all parts of the saguaro desert. The scientific name of the Saguaro Cactus is Carnegiea gigantea, the name is given to honor philanthropist Andrew Carnegie. His Carnegie institution established the desert botanical laboratory in 1903. The body of the Saguaro is covered with spines. Water and temperature are the two major factors for the growth of the saguaro cactus. Summer and winter are common in the Sonoran desert and the cactus is believed to obtain moisture during the winter seasons. 
  2. Saguaro is the largest cactus species in the United States. How tall can a saguaro cactus grow? They can grow more than 40 feet. There are around 50,000 types of saguaro cactus and the tallest saguaro cactus measured is over 78 feet. 
  3. How long do saguaro cacti live? Saguaro cactus lifespan is considered to be between 100 to 200 years but depends on the growing condition and the water availability. Low temperature and frost are considered the two main factors for a saguaro to die.
  4. Saguaro cactus weight is over a ton when it is fully grown. A foot of saguaro cactus can weigh up to 90 pounds. After a good rain, the cactus is fully hydrated and can weigh between 3200 and 4800 pounds.
  5. How fast do saguaro cactus grow? It grows at a very slow rate. The growth can only be seen at the tip of the cactus. To reach 1 inch, it takes around 10 years. Only at the age of 70, the cactus reaches the height of 6 to 7 inches and this is when it produces its first flower. The arms of the cactus will emerge only when the cactus is 10 feet tall but some cactus never grow arms. The growth of arms does not depend on its age, it depends on where the cactus grows and the availability of water.
  6. How much water can a saguaro cactus hold? A mature saguaro cactus can store around 200 gallons of water in a good rainfall. It stores water in its spongy pulp that is enough for several months. The roots of the cacti are placed near the surface of the soil that enables them to absorb even a small amount of water instantly. Though many saguaro cacti are edible, the insides of the cacti are highly acidic and many contain toxic alkaloids. Eating the pulp of the cactus can lead to nausea, diarrhea, and may even dehydrate you. 
  7. Saguaro cactus root system is a taproot system in which you can see only a single root that can grow up to 5 feet and its main root grows about 4 inches deep to collect water from underground. There can only be a few minutes of rain in the desert but the saguaro has the tendency to absorb the water quickly before the water soaks into the soil.
  8. The old granddaddy was the oldest giant saguaro cactus in the world but started to die in the 1990s. It was around 300 years old was 40 feet tall with 52 arms. Oro valley saguaro was one of the oldest cacti in the world and it was around 200 years old and 40 feet tall. It died in 2003. Grand one was around 180 to 300 years old with a height of around 46 feet tall and died in 2007.
  9. Once the saguaro is dead the woody part can be used to make furniture, roofs, and fences. You can notice small holes in a dead saguaro, they are called saguaro boots. They are nothing but dwellings of birds. Despite the spines of saguaro cactus, birds such as Gila woodpeckers wait for the pulp to completely dry and create a cavity to live in. But the saguaro cactus can seal off the holes to prevent water loss. 
  10. The saguaro’s blossom is Arizona’s state flower. It became Arizona’s territorial flower on March 13, 1901, and its state flower on March 16, 1931. This magnificent wildflower is produced by the cactus only during April and June, the late spring and early summer days of Arizona. The flower is about 3 inches wide and white in color. It has more stamens than any other cactus flower. The cactus flowers once every year and several flowers bloom in a week secreting very sweet nectar.

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