If it wasn’t for this misshapen cactus…
Along the side of the road, I would have had to stand on a very tall ladder and hope its long needles didn’t stab me. Though prickly, this cactus is statuesqueand a delight of the Arizona dweller as well as for the bats, birds and bees. In the springtime, its blooms and fruit make a wonderful addition to the desert, too. Come take a look.
points of interest
Many pure white and waxy petals form the funnel-shaped flowers of the Saguaro Cactus. Found near the tops of the stems and arms, at night their strong smell, reminiscent of overripe melons, attracts nocturnal bats and during the day, bees and birds for pollination. The resulting fruit is bright red and juicy, erupts when ripe and is a great food source for many dessert animals. The columnar trunk is wide and ribbed, which adapts to the desert moisture conditions by expanding and contracting. The spines are needle-shaped and can be gray, brown or yellow. Very slow growing, generally reaching only 3’ in 30 years and branching and flowering only occurring when the plants reach 10-12’. Grow in a desert garden or, where not hardy, in a warm greenhouse.
Very slow to propagate and transplanting from the wild has low survivability. Outdoors, grow in a sharply drained, humus rich and gritty soil in full sun. During the growing season from late spring to early autumn, apply water freely and low-nitrogen liquid fertilizer monthly.
friday’s flower fact
The official state flower of Arizona, the slow growing Saguaro cacti are protected by the state from any harm. Their flowers bloom for less than 24 hours, opening at night and remaining open through the next day.
Botanical Name | Carnegiea gigantea
Family | Cactaceae
Type | Cactus
Origin | Southern CA, Arizona, NW Mexico
Zone | 12-15
Flower Height | 40-50’
Flower Diameter | 5”
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