Saturday, November 7, 2009

Saguaro you today?

We take a lot of photographs of saguaro (Carnegiea gigantea). Here are some of our favorites.

Sabino Sunset
Saguaro Sunset 38/365
Dayvan Cowboy
Erin and a Giant Saguaro Cactus

From the Ladybird Johnson Wildflower Center @ University of Texas, Austin:

"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. Accordion 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."

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