If you’ve been to Arizona, chances are you’ve come across a saguaro cactus. This article outlines 10 interesting facts about Arizona’s most characterizing plant.
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What is it about this overgrown, spiky plant that makes it so special?
- The saguaro cactus, also known as the Carnegiea gigantea, only grows in the Sonoran Desert.
- Saguaros take a very long time to grow. In the first 8 years of a Saguaro’s life, it’ll only grow between 1-1.5 inches.
- A saguaro cactus, in its early stages of life, is hard to find as it often hides under a palo verde, ironwood or mesquite “nurse tree”. This relationship doesn’t often end well for the tree – as the saguaro grows, it saps nutrients and water from the surrounding soil, often killing the tree that shelters it.
- A saguaro goes through its longest growth period transitioning from an unbranched cactus to a branched one.
- A saguaro is usually 50-70 years old before it grows its first branch. And this is if the arm grows quickly. It may take 100 years before a saguaro can grow its first arm.
- A saguaro must be 35 years old before it can grow any flowers.
- The saguaro cactus is like the plant of perpetual youth – it is only considered an adult when it is 125 years old, and saguaros generally die when they’re 150-175 years old. Lucky, or particularly youthful cacti, may live over 200 years.
- The bloom of the saguaro is Arizona’s state flower.
- The roots of a saguaro expand like an accordion to absorb as much water as possible.
- The saguaro is primarily made up of water.
- An adult saguaro may weigh up to 6 tons.
- It’s illegal in Arizona to move a saguaro cactus off of private or public property without a permit.
Saguaro cacti are very important to the Sonoran ecosystem, as a large number of animals use the cacti as a host plant.
For example, after a Gila Woodpecker pecks through the saguaro’s skin, other birds tend to move in to the exposed area, making Saguaro cacti prime real estate in the desert. This location is especially convenient when saguaros bloom flowers and fruit, as the birds nestled inside the cactus are able to eat these energy-rich foods without exerting too much energy in the summer heat.
Want to live in an area where you can appreciate the crowning glory of the Sonoran Desert? Contact an Arizona Real Estate expert on the Matheson Team today for information on real estate in our area.
One last fun fact: Some evidence suggests that the Hohokam people, Arizona’s original population, used the “ribs” of the saguaro cactus (what holds the cactus upright) to construct the walls of their homes. For more Arizona history, visit our related site, ScottsdaleRealEstate.
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