Sonoran Desert   Plants, saguaro, wildflowers
Majestic Saguaros

View our
Saguaro Slide Show
In their Natural Light

The name Saguaro is pronounced
"sa – WAH – row".

Like snowflakes, not one Saguaro looks alike.
Unlike snowflakes, the Saguaro would not be described as delicate and etheric but giant, human-like, prickly, and majestic.

Except they have an immune system and are the "Talkers" of the "flying" Land Spirits.
The Saguaro is one of the most cherished Icons of the Sonoran desert.
It is immortalized in many western movies
- sometimes real and sometimes made out of plaster
- even in some western movies where the setting is supposed to be in Nevada or Colorado although Saguaros don’t grow that far north.

The true range of the Saguaro is through out the Sonoran Desert of southern Arizona, northwestern Mexico, and southeastern California.

Sonoran Desert Wisdom



Saguaro is a Cactus and a Succulent plant. The skin of its columnar trunk and stems is smooth and waxy. The skin secretes a waxy substance for water proofing. The ”stomates”, tiny pores in the skin, allows the exchange of photosynthetic gas.

The ribs of the saguaro support its weight- as much as six tons. Clustered on the ribs are 2-inch spines, this spiny armor provides a dense shade for the waxy skin. The Saguaro can store up to 200 gallons of water and - like an accordion - swell out to twice its normal size. When full of water, the Saguaro can survive 2 years without water.

A new arm growing out of the Saguaro
Saguaro boot The interior of the Saguaro has a somewhat stable temperature, several degrees cooler or warmer than outside. Given it’s efficient internal environmental control, Gila Woodpeckers, gilded Flickers, Elf and Screech Owls, Purple Martins, Fly Catchers and a bevy of bugs find the Saguaro a sensible desert abode.

When birds make their home in the Saguaro Cactus by chiseling out holes in the trunk, the hole/wound is healed and formed into what is called a boot. Long after the Saguaro has died, the boots can be gathered and make for bowls, art, and altarpieces in southwestern homes.

Snow covered Saguaro The Saguaro germinates in the shelter of a "nurse" tree or shrub, which provides moisture and shade. The Saguaro grows very slowly; it takes 25 years to grow one foot high. Its height may get up 50 feet tall. Many easily grow to be 100 years old; the largest Saguaros, with more than 5 arms, are estimated to be 200 years old.

Seemingly disregarding it is great height and weight, the Saguaro has a very shallow root system. It is supported by a tap root that is only about 3 feet long, as well as numerous small roots radiating out from its base to a distance equal to the height of the Saguaro. These roots wrap about rocks to anchor it from strong winds.

Saguaros are late bloomers
- It’s first blossom occurs when it is 50 years old. Saguaros bloom from May through June. Over a period of about a month, a few of the up to 200 flowers a Saguaro can produce will bloom at night. These flowers last till around noon the following day.

If fertilization has occurred, the fruit will ripen. Bats and Doves are the primary pollinators, although it is nectar attracts many other varieties of birds and insects, which may pollinate the flower by cross-pollination.

In a single fruit pod, there may be up to 4,000 tiny black seeds - no bigger than a grain of sand. The red flesh inside the seedpod tastes reminiscent of watermelon and is relished by animals, birds, and humans alike.

This fruit is an especially important food source to the Tohono o’Odham and other Native Americans who used the flesh, seeds and juice for food and sacrament.

The Tohono o’Odham gather the seed pods and make Saguaro wine specifically for ceremonies to welcome the New Year.

Sonoran Desert   Plants, saguaro, wildflowers

Sonoran Desert   Plants, saguaro, wildflowers
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