All About Deserts

The Saguaro Cactus


The Saguaro Cactus grows in the Sonoran desert. It grows in rocky and gravelly soil, usual between the altitudes of 2,000 and 3,500 feet. It's genus is Carnegiea, and it's binomial name is Carnegiea gigantea.   
Obtaining Energy
The Saguaro cactus obtains energy by storing water in its sponge like stem. The saguaro cactus has a water storage pith (spongy tissue). During dry times, the pleats of the saguaro are deep and the cactus is thin. But, after a heavy rain fall the saguaro cactus absorbs the water and the skin and surface pleats expand.

Growth and Development

Saguaros have a relatively long life span. It takes them up to 75 years to develope  a side arm. The growth rate of a saguaro strongly depends on the precipitation; saguaros in the drier western part of Arizona grow only half of fast of those in or around Tuscan, Arizona. Some may live for more than 150 years; the Champion Saguaro grow from 15 to 50 feet tall with a girth  of 10 feet. During May and June, the saguaro cactus blooms with large, cream-colored flowers. These flowers only live for 24 hours. Hummingbirds and doves drink the flowers' nectar during the day, and long-nosed bats and many insects drink it at night. 

Using Energy

Saguaros usually use their energy trying to obtain more energy. This takes most of their time because they must take advantage of every bit of moisture in their surroundings. This is because their roots only extend a few inches in the soil. 


The saguaro cactus reproduces by pollination. Cream colored flowers bloom on the cactus during May and June. Animals such as the hummingbirds, doves, bats, and many insects drink nectar from the flowers. Pollen from the flowers stick to these creatures, and they carry it to other saguaro blossoms, thus fertilizing them.

Adapting to Immediate Changes in Environment

Saguaro fruit
Saguaro cactus have adapted to very specific conditions in order to survive. The southern part of the Sonoran desert has very hot summers and slightly cool winters. The northern part has hot summers and can experience fairly cold weather in the winter. Saguaros in the southern part of the desert usually grow on slopes that face the north, and are cooler. Those in the northern part of the desert usually grow on slopes that face the south, where they are shielded from the cold. The fruit that comes from the saguaro blossom is eaten by many animals. Usually the saguaro cactus is used for food and shelter by many animals.