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More Saguaro Cactus of the Sonoran Desert

Come fly with me around an area of the Sonoran Desert in southwestern Arizona, filled with Saguaro cactus…..

Here is more Saguaro cactus of the Sonoran Desert from my regular non-flying camera. In taking and reviewing these images, I inevitably find some that appear, to me, better having been filtered through a paint program, which provides a kind of surreal ‘flavor’ to the pictures. The Sonoron desert can be rather surreal and magical at times. These images in this post have all been so filtered.

Here are some more facts about the Saguaro….

The Saguaro Cactus is an incredible plant that has illustrated the abilities of evolution over the years of it’s existence. This page will give you a very basic overview of how the Saguaro Cactus lives, survives and grows in an environment that renders zero resources for survival.
more Saguaro Cactus of the Sonoran Desert
 
WHO AM I?
The Saguaro cactus is a large tree sized cactus that lives in the desert. Its defensive mechanisms can be considered both passive and aggressive. The aggressive mechanism is the countless amount of pointy spines all along the surface of the cactus.  The passive mechanism would be the fact that these cacti grow flowers at the base, or on their arms that provide seeds for the growing of the next generation of cacti.
 
WHERE DO I LIVE?
The Sonoran Desert in Arizona, the Mexican state of Sonora and Baja California in the San Felipe Desert. These cacti thrive in this environment being able to live off pretty much intolerable amounts of water. Normal plants are unable to survive in this same environment which is why you only see cacti like the Saguaro Cactus. 
 
WHAT DO I EAT?
The Saguaro leads a very dependent life, where it’s environment determines how the cactus will grow. Cacti in Tucson grow twice as fast as those in the drier western portion of Arizona. These cacti rely heavily on precipitation which determines the rate of growth for each cactus. The more water a cacti has, the more it will grow; which is why drier deserts produce less developed cacti, as opposed to wetter deserts producing more developed cacti.
 
HOW DO I LOOK?
I am tall and green with large spines, kind of like giant fingerprints all along my body. On these spines I have needles all along each spine. I also have many arms which help me to reproduce by giving me the ability to grow more flowers for reproduction.
 
HOW DO I REPRODUCE?
Some Saguaros can live up to 150 years, while it takes about 75 years just to grow a side arm. These arms are grown as an evolutionary mechanism to increase the plant’s reproductive capacity. The Saguaro cactus is the type of plant that requires cross pollination in order to reproduce. Saguaros can produce up to 40,000 seeds in their lifetime, but only one seed will live long enough to produce a new cactus; this is due to predation, drought and temperature extremes. Saguaros take very long to grow, where a 10 year old Saguaro can be as tall as 2 inches. The most known form of reproduction of plants refers to bees extracting nectar moving from flower to flower. As they collect nectar the sticky pollen attaches to the bees, then they go to the next flower and smear the pollen all over that flower as they are collecting the nectar. But for Saguaros, this pollination occurs at night, and instead of bees, its bats. Although doves and bees are seen doing most of the daytime pollination, bats do all of the night time and morning time pollination.

The Saguaro Cactus of the Sonoran Desert

 

The Saguaro cactus of the Sonoran Desert (Carnegiea gigantea) is one of the defining plants of the American Southwest. These plants are large, tree-like columnar cacti that develop branches (or arms) as they age, although some never grow arms. These arms generally bend upward and can number over 25. Saguaro cactus are covered with protective spines, white flowers in the late spring, and red fruit in summer. Saguaros are found exclusively in the Sonoran Desert. 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. You find this cactus in southern Arizona and western Sonora, Mexico. At the northern portion of their range they are more plentiful on the warmer south facing slopes. A few stray plants can also be found in southeast California. The saguaro is not currently listed as threatened or endangered. Arizona has strict regulations about the harvesting, collection or destruction of this species. 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 (12-18m). When rain is plentiful and the saguaro is fully hydrated it can weigh between 3200-4800 pounds.

The saguaro cactus has been described as the monarch of the Sonoran Desert, as a prickly horror, as the supreme symbol of the American Southwest, and as a plant with personality. It is renowned for the variety of odd, all-too-human shapes it assumes, shapes that inspire wild and fanciful imaginings

Despite the spines, which prevent hungry animals from feasting on their tissues, saguaros serve as “hotels” for birds such as Gila woodpeckers, which carve out nest holes in the plants. These birds typically wait several months before moving in to give the pulp of the cactus time to dry and create a solid casing around the cavity. “Sagauros are characterized as foundation species because they support so many other species in the ecosystem,”

The Saguaro Cactus of the Sonoran Desert is a hallmark of the American Southwest

Saguaro cactus of the Sonoran Desert

 

  • The saguaro is the largest cactus in the United States.
  • Most of the saguaros roots are only 4-6 inches deep and radiate out as far from the plant as it is tall. There is one deep root, or tap root that extends down into the ground more than 2 feet.
  • After the saguaro dies its woody ribs can be used to build roofs, fences, and parts of furniture. The holes that birds nested in or “saguaro boots” can be found among the dead saguaros. Native Americans used these as water containers long before the canteen was available.