Monday, October 22, 2012

Sonoran's saguaro cactus is a gem of the desert...




Amazing, isn't it?

This is the saguaro cactus, Carnegiea gigantea, one of the most spectacular sights on my trip last week to the Garden Writers Annual Symposium in Tucson, Arizona.

The saguaro only grows in the Sonoran Desert, and it doesn't do that very fast.  Saguaros only grow between 1 to 1-1/2 inches in their first 8 years, according to information published by the Saguaro National Park.

Our highly entertaining breakfast speaker, Peter Gierlach, former nurseryman, country singer and radio show host of "Growing Native with Petey Mesquitey," told us that saguaro can be as old as 75 years old before they grow their first branch.  In drier areas, it can take up to 100 years to grow a branch.

Saguaras begin to bloom at about 35 and can live to be 175 to 200 years old.  They can get 50 feet tall and weigh as much as 6 tons.  (As my husband said to me, "you wouldn't want that to fall on you!")



According to the Saguaro National Park, "The roots of the saguaro grow in  a radial fashion, several inches under the ground.  During a heavy rain, a saguaro will absorb as much water as its root system allows.  To accomodate this potentially large influx of water, the pleats (of the saguaro) expand like an accordion.  Conversely, when the desert is dry, the saguaro uses its stored water and the pleats contract."



Sometimes they grow in strange shapes, like this one intimately entwined with a tree at the Tucson Botanical Gardens.



This unique and creative metal art pays homage to the saguaro and its stature in the desert.



Wonder how old this guy is?  I thought these statuesque cacti were phenomenal when I arrived in Tucson.  When I learned their amazing history and story, I was even more impressed.



I am in awe of the will and ability of plants to adapt and grow in the harshest of conditions and against all odds. 

I suppose that's why I garden...I appreciate the gift of being able to be a part of something so much greater than me.

13 comments:

Pam/Digging said...

The saguaro was definitely the "signature" plant of Tucson. All those friendly arms waving hello...

Diana said...

Friendly, in a prickly sort of way!

Desert Dweller said...

Great pics, especially that one at the Tucson Botanical Gardens (somehow I missed that one). What a signature of the Sonoran Desert...for 2-3 decades, there were some saguaros in Las Cruces and even Abq, but then came 2/2011!

Diana said...

Desert Dweller - It was great to meet you in person and get to hang out. Loved all the agaves and cacti - especially the saguaros. So impressive. Too bad we can't grow them here.

Karen Chapman said...

Your last comment is so true - we have to be in awe at the beauty of Nature

Gail said...

I loved that garden and hope to get back there someday. Wonderful photos.

Rohrerbot said...

Glad you had fun and your hubby is right....one of those falling is no joke:) Such a great cactus to have around here in Tucson. Many of those in your pictures are older than a 100 years old. Some are near 200. All my best. Chris

Rose said...

The saguaraos are truly amazing! My daughter lived in the Phoenix area for several years, so I got the chance to visit Arizona quite a few times and really fell in love with the plant life there. Did you know that it's against the law for developers to cut down a saguaro? They either have to move them or build around them!

carol smith said...

No wonder why these giant cactus are, well, giants. Maybe it absorbs gallons of water a day. Isn't it amazing to see those in your backyard?

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Janet, The Queen of Seaford said...

Such a neat looking plant, 6 tons? yikes.

Lisa at Greenbow said...

Isn't that the truth. Nature is grand. Gardening gets us intimately involved with Nature.

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