The Arizona Saguaro

April 2008

This Suguaro was just east of Quartzsite had 47 arms and has since died.

After spending a week in Congress, AZ at North Ranch Escapee RV Park in what they call "Bead Week". We returned to Wagon West RV Park and Lee told us about a Saguaro out behind our RV park that is starting to bloom, so Nancy and I drove our ATV out in the 20 - 25 MPH winds with gusts up to 35 MPH and went to check it out. There were buds all around the top of it but no flowers yet. The Saguaro cactus blooms end of May and June. We were back at Wagon West in June after a month in San Diego to warm up and got some good photos on the Saguaro flowers.


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This cactus grows very slowly. It takes a saguaro about 10 years to grow 1 1/2 inches. In 30 years, it grows 2 feet. Many saguaros have nurse plants that protect them when they are growing. Saguaros develop arms when they are 50 to 100 years old. Some saguaros never grow arms at all; some have as many as 50 arms! A full-grown saguaro is 50 feet or more tall and weighs 6 to 7 tons when it if filled with water. It can live to be 200 years old.
    Saguaros have a tough, waxy outer skin that helps them keep moisture inside their trunks and arms. There are folds in this skin that expand and shrink depending on the amount of water they are storing. Water can make up between 75% and 90% of the weight. Like your skeleton, each saguaro has between 13 and 20 ribs that give it its shape and support. It also has spines to protect it from animals and to give the plant some shade.
    Most of the saguaro's roots grow less than 4 inches underground. These roots spread out in all directions. It also has a few roots that grow 2 to 3 feet deep. This root system helps it collect as much rain water as possible.
    Saguaros bloom when they are 8 to 10 feet tall. The saguaros' large, white, waxy flowers open in May and in June. They open at night and remain open only until the next afternoon. In less than 24 hours, the flowers must be pollinated so they can bear fruit.
    Nectar-feeding bats, like the lesser long-nose bat, pollinate most of the saguaros in Sabino Canyon. They are "primary pollinators" which means they are the main ones. If they leave any nectar or pollen, insects and birds will eat it. When insects and birds carry pollen to the next saguaro, then they become "secondary     pollinators" for the saguaros.
The saguaro's fruit is red. Each fruit contains 1,200 to 2,000 tiny black seeds, the size of poppy seeds. One saguaro may produce 40 million seeds in its lifetime. Only 1 out of 1,000 of those seeds will survive, one or two per fruit.

I don't think we will be here when these buds turn to flowers.

This is the Saguaro we found the buds on.

They only bloom for 24 hours and will be hard to catch open.

Here is a Saguaro in bloom.

Up close look at the Saguaro flower.

Kind of a side view of the Saguaro flower.

A nice clump of flowers.

This is the saguaro's fruit.

This is a Verdin getting nectar out of the Saguaro fruit.

Verdins have a love for sweet juice, and are often see them consuming spilled nectar at hummingbird feeders.

This is a Gila Woodpecker getting nectar out of a hummingbird feeder at Ramblin Roads RV park.

This is a Gila Woodpecker and its nest in a Saguaro.

This is the cactus in front of the Laundry.

This a close up of the flower of the cactus in front of the Laundry.

This little Fishhook cactus has a red buds on it.

This fishhook cactus is close by the Saguaro with the buds on it behind our RV park.

Here is a fishhook cactus in bloom.

Here is another fishhook cactus in bloom.

Here is another cactus in bloom next to the Saguaro.

This is one of the buds on it.

Maybe these buds will flower out...

Here is another Saguaro with some buds forming.

I thought this old Iron Wood tree made a great photo.

This is a Choia (jumping cactus, teddy bear cactus) flower.

I thought the flower was on this Choia cactus.

This Palo Verde tree in bloom is in the back of the RV park behind the fire pit.

This Palo Verde tree is in the wash behind the RV park.

This is the Oleander bush in Bob and Dela's old space.

Carols cactus is blooming.

close up of Carols cactus.

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