Search for native plants by scientific name, common name or family. If you are not sure what you are looking for, try the Combination Search or our Recommended Species lists.
Search native plant database:
Flaigg, Norman G.
Carnegiea gigantea (Engelm.) Britton & Rose
Synonym(s): Carnegia gigantea, Cereus giganteus
USDA Symbol: CAGI10
USDA Native Status: L48 (N)
Saguaro grows to 50 ft. in height; its tremendous weight, up to nine tons, is supported by a skeleton of about two dozen spongy, wooden rods. Accordian pleats contract as they gain and lose moisture. White flowers open after nightfall and close by late afternoon the following day. Saguaro has fleshy red fruit. Giant, leafless, columnar tree cactus with massive, spiny trunk and usually 2-10 stout, nearly erect, spiny branches.
Native Americans made use of the entire cactus: they ate the fruit both fresh and dried and made it into preserves and beverages; the framework of ribs provided wood for shelters, fences, and kindling. Giant Saguaro (pronounced sah-WAH-ro), the largest native cactus, is the state flower of Arizona and a symbol of desert landscapes. Well-adapted to its hot, dry climate, Giant Saguaro is leafless. Food is manufactured in the green stems, and rainwater is absorbed quickly by the shallow roots and stored in the succulent trunks and branches. The thick, spreading spines offer protection against animals. Gila woodpeckers and gilded flickers make round holes near the tops of branches for nests that are used afterwards by elf owls, cactus wrens, and other birds. Wildlife, especially white-winged doves, consume quantities of the seeds.
Plant CharacteristicsDuration: Perennial Habit: Cactus/Succulent Size Notes:
up to 46 ft.tall, 2 ft. thick. Leaf:
Yellow-Green Fruit: Size Class:
Bloom InformationBloom Color: White , Green
Bloom Time: May , Jun
Bloom Notes: nocturnal flowers
, CA Native Distribution: In AZ
– Yavapai & Mohave to Graham, Santa Cruz, Pine & Yuma Cos.; local in adjacent CA
& Mex. Native Habitat:
Rocky foothills; canyons; washes; sandy or gravelly desert plains
Growing ConditionsWater Use:
Low Light Requirement:
Sun Soil Moisture:
Dry CaCO3 Tolerance:
High Soil Description:
Sandy or gravelly, well-drained soils. Conditions Comments:
Saguaro cacti are protected by law and require government tags for purchase or transport. These are very slow-growing plants that live up to 250 years. The fleshy fruit
BenefitUse Wildlife: Flowers attract bees, bats and doves. Fruits attract many birds and mammals. Birds often nest in holes in the trunk.
Conspicuous Flowers: yes
From the ArchiveWildflower Newsletter1989 VOL. 6, NO.2
- Wildflower Network Operates in Louisiana, Wildflower Handbook Published, Researc...Wildflower Newsletter1990 VOL. 7, NO.4
- Research Update, Wild-Collecting Endangers Natives, Director's Report, Maryland ...Wildflower Newsletter1993 VOL. 10, NO.5
- Plant Now for Spring Beauty, Director's Report, Wildflower Center Offers Educati...Wildflower Newsletter1995 VOL. 12, NO.3
- Explore the Big Bend With the Wildflower Center, Education Director\'s Report, T...Wildflower Newsletter1996 VOL. 13, NO.5
- Bats as Cacti Pollinators, Fall Foliage Hotlines, Creating Fall Foliage Leafprin...
Record Last Modified: 2010-09-09
Research By: TWC Staff