« Back to main plant list

Saguaro

Carnegiea gigantea

Details & Attributes


Plant Type(s) Cactus, succulent, perennial
Native to Arizona Yes!
Water Needs Low
Sun Full sun, partial shade
Pollinators Bats, bees, birds
Has Spines Yes
Size
In relative feet, width by height
40' × 20'
Freeze Tolerant No
Flowering Season May-June
Flower Color White
Minimum Temperature Range 15-20 °F
Leaf Description Spines
Fruit A juicy, sweet, wildlife delight, filled with tiny black seeds.
Longevity
In years
200
View on SEINet View SEINet Entry
Range Map View SEINet Range Map
Elevation Range 500-3500 ft.
Ethnobotany The fruits of Saguaro hold deep importance to the O'odham people for whom they serve as an important food source. The period which approximates the month of June in the O'odham calendar is referred to as "Saguaro Fruit Ripening Moon" (Ha:san b:ak Masad). The Saguaro harvest served as an important ecological indicator that the season of the essential summer rains was approaching. The fruit has uses that range from mush, to wine, to jam, syrup, to using the seeds for oil; the plant can be used for splints, furniture, fences and for fodder.
Description Perhaps the most iconic plant of the Sonoran Desert, any xeriscape in southern or central Arizona where extreme cold is not an issue should include this keystone species. Just be sure to give it plenty of space to grow vertically (Don't put it under the eaves of your house). Mature specimens serve as veritable apartment complexes for a variety of birds. The flowers and fruit are an important food source for wildlife, and have been central to the lives of indigenous groups that live within its range. This species prefers good drainage and minimal irrigation. Very small plants benefit from light shade and are often found in association with nurse plants (larger plants that case shade) in native habitats.