The Saguaro Cactus. Living symbol of the greater Southwest.
Or is it? Actually, Saguaro almost are entirely limited to two states: Arizona (US) and Sonora (Mexico). There are a few specimens to be found in California but in reality it is an Arizona native. The scientific name Carnegiea gigantea is in honor of Andrew Carnegie.
They are huge. Usually growing to 30 feet (10m) tall and weighing up to 4800 lbs (2200 kg). Saguaro will live to be 150 years old and don’t even put out the arms until they are around 75 years old.
Not all Saguaro produce arms, some just grow straight for their entire lives. They start from seed only and need a little shade and protection from the elements to get started. They bloom once per year with very fragrant flowers that open at night. The fruit is very sweet and has been used by the natives for centuries.
But this isn’t THE Saguaro story, it is A Saguaro story.
This old bugger is really old, and dying. It's lived it's life and is probably more than 150 years old. From long before Arizona was a state.
Saguaro are not particularly social with humans, they tend to be off by themselves in fairly inhospitable ground. Sam and I went for a walk with the intent of photographing some of them for the possibility of a post. This is that post.
I’m really not much of a selfie guy (obviously) but took this one in an attempt to show the scale of this plant. I am 6’ 4” (1.93 m) and you can see from the coloration where my head is in relationship to the cactus. It is at least 30 ft (9 m) tall.
This old monster is well over 30 feet tall (10m) It's sad that it's run it's course, but that is the way of life. You can see the broken stub and the woody core that holds them together.
Here's a close up of the damage on this cactus. Note the hole in the stump. It was probably a birds nest at one time. Several species nest IN Saguaro Cactus. They make a hole in the cactus and move in. The cactus makes a hard shell and doesn't care at all. It works good for all.
This guys shadow looks healthy and impressive. A reminder what he once was!
I said at the start this was about a Saguaro. This old cactus caught my fancy so I showed it too. The story is really about this one, the first one Sam and I happend upon in our walk of discovery.
From this distance I can tell that it's a young Saguaro, maybe even post WWII. It's all of 30 feet tall (10m) and you can tell by the way it's swelled that it is full of moisture.
When you get up to it you can see the damage. Those are bullett holes folks. They haven't quite killed it, but it is certainly damaged.
You do get a pretty good look at the needles on a healthy Saguaro. Those things are big AND sharp. The needles on a Saguaro grow as the cactus grows, so those at the bottom are much the largest. Native peoples used the needles for sewing and decorative purposes.
These holes go right through and there is no doubt in my mind that these are supersonic rounds probably .223. I just really don't understand why you would get any enjoyment from shooting one of these beautiful desert residents.
Sorry. Another selfie to show the hight of the big damage. I think this one will survive barring any more asshats shooting it.
This has been a hard look at one of the most recognizable residents of our desert. I hope you enjoyed it as much as I enjoyed bringing it to you.
All Words and Photographs in this post are mine, for better or worse.
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