Carnegiea gigantea

Accession Count: 124
Common Name: Saguaro
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Family Name: Cactaceae
Botanical Name: Carnegiea gigantea
Sub Species:
Variety:
Forma:
Cultivar:
Characteristics: Carnegiea gigantea is a green columnar cactus with a single trunk, bearing 2-10 stout, upward curving branches covered in large pronounced spines. From early spring to summer, showy, tubular white flowers will form, followed by red fruits.
Compound: Car gig
Geographic Origin: Desert Southwest
Ecozone Origin: Nearctic
Biome Origin: Sonoran Desert
Natural History: The saguaro is the only plant in the Carnegiea genus. It was named after Andrew Carnegie, and is only found in the Sonoran Desert - within Arizona, Mexico, and a small part of southern California (1, 2). C. gigantea is the largest cactus in the United States and is capable of surviving between 150-200 years (2).
Cultivation Notes: The saguaro requires very little water. It is suggested to only occasionally water the plant during its growing season and not at all during monsoon season (1). Young saguaros will usually require shading to ensure they do not burn in the heat of the sun (1). Otherwise, the Saguaro is perfectly fine to live in full sunlight and dry conditions due to its ability to store water in its fleshy stems (3).
Ethnobotany: Native Americans have been known to use the saguaro cactus for several different uses. They would eat the fruits and make drinks out of them (4). Additionally, they would use the body of the cactus as shelter framework, roofing and firewood (4). Several animals also make use of the saguaro in the wild. Some birds, such as woodpeckers, build nests on the trunk of the saguaro and after the woodpeckers leave the nests, often other birds and owls will use the vacant nests (3). Additionally, many species of wildlife consume the fruits of the saguaro, and it is important to the ecosystems within the Sonoran desert (4).

Height: 50 - 100 feet
Width: 6 - 10 feet
Growth Rate: Slow Growing
Grow Season: Summer
Flower Season: ForeSummer
Color: White
Function: Accent
Spread: Non-spreading
Allergen: Non-allergenic
Invasive: Benign
Toxicity: Benign
Hardy: Semi-hardy
Water Use: Low water Use
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Carnegiea gigantea