It’s a succulent which means it has a fleshy interior capable of storing large amounts of water. This is characteristic for plants growing in harsh weather conditions. Saguaro looks amazing and majestic but can be harmful. Its sharp spines can easily penetrate human body and it weighs a lot so you wouldn’t want to be crushed by it, believe me. To be honest, one guy was squashed by saguaro and didn’t survive that encounter.
Its Latin name is Carnegiea gigantea and it’s a member of Cactaceae family.
They are endemic to the Sonoran Desert.
Saguaros can be found in western Sonora in Mexico and southern Arizona in United States.
They can grow to really gigantic forms, but it takes time.
It takes them usually more than 20 years to exceed 1 meter (3ft 3in) height. They reach 3 meters (10 ft) after about 40 years and 7 meters (23 ft) after 100 years.
It’s a long living plant.
Saguaro cactus can live about 150 to 200 years.
They can store a lot of water.
When fully hydrated they weigh around 2000 kg (4400 lb).
Saguaro has very sharp and durable spines.
They can grow to 7 cm (3in) long, and can cause severe wounds to animals and people.
Flowers are white and reach diameter of 8 cm (3 in).
They bloom since April to late June, opening after sunset till mid afternoon next day. Flowers form on the top of a plant as well as on tips of its branches. They are being pollinated by bats and moths at night and during the day by bees and birds.
Each season cactus can produce up to 100 flowers. Each flower is open for less than a day and withers afterwards.
Scent is similar to sweet melon and it lures pollinators easily.
Fruits are ruby red and big.
Their size may vary from 6 to 9 cm (2,5 to 3,5 in) and ripe in June. As they grow really high, special pole is used to harvest them.
Each saguaro fruit contains about 2000 seeds.
It seems a lot but keep in mind that only 1% of them germinate successfully due to harsh weather conditions.
The plant is supported by wooden ribs inside the trunk and arms.
They can be as long as the cactus itself and have few centimeters in diameter.
Plants without grown arms are called spears.
Tallest saguaro cactus recorded so far was 23,8 m (78 ft) high.
Unfortunately the armless plant was toppled during a windstorm in 1986.
The saguaro blossom is Arizona's state flower.
Earliest documented use of saguaro dates back to 1540 when Pedro de Castañeda noticed O'odham tribesmen collecting cactus fruits.
He wrote a brief note about harvest and ritual of preparing fermented juice of cactus fruits.
It is illegal in Arizona to shoot saguaros.
Bighorn sheep got its skull penetrated by saguaro spine after hitting it with head.
Don’t mess with a cactus.
Saguaro actually killed a man. In 1982, David Grundman was shooting at cactus to make it fall. Unfortunately for him a 230kg (500 lb.) arm of the plant fell onto him and later the trunk finished the job.
For cutting saguaro down you can go to jail.
Maximum sentence you can get is 3 year and 9 months.