“The saguaro (scientific name Carnegiea gigantea) is a large, tree-sized cactus species in the monotypic genus Carnegiea. It is native to the Sonoran Desert in the U.S. state of Arizona, the Mexican state of Sonora, a small part of Baja California in the San Felipe Desert and an extremely small area of California, U.S. The saguaro blossom is the State Wildflower of Arizona.

Saguaros have a relatively long life span. They take up to 75 years to develop a side arm. The arms themselves are grown to increase the plant's reproductive capacity (more apices equal more flowers and fruit). The growth rate of saguaros is strongly dependent on precipitation; saguaros in drier western Arizona grow only half as fast as those in and around Tucson, Arizona. Some specimens may live for more than 150 years; the largest known saguaro is the Champion Saguaro. It grows in Maricopa County, Arizona, and is 13.8 meters (45.3 ft) tall with a girth of 3.1 meters (10 ft). These cacti can grow anywhere from 15 to 50 feet. They grow slowly from seed, and not at all from cuttings. Whenever it rains, saguaros soak up the rainwater. The cactus will visibly expand, holding in the rainwater. It conserves the water and slowly consumes it”. – Wikipedia

Photos: Daniel Appel (L), a firefighter with Engine 84 from the Lassen National Forest in California and Mike Hallen, (R), Arizona representative of the National Register of Big Trees, measure the circumference of this Saguaro cactus called the "Grand One," in the Tonto National Forest on July 1, 2005 35 miles north of Phoenix, near Carefree, Arizona. The cactus, estimated to be more than 200 years old, measures a circumference of 7 feet, 10 inches (2.4 meters) and stands 46 feet high (14 meters). The cactus was burned in the Cave Creek Complex fire and may not survive. It was once the largest Saguaro in the world, two others have been found recently that have tied it's measurements. The fire has burned more than 214,000 acres of the Sonoran desert. (Photo by Jeff Topping/Getty Images)

26 Jul 2011 12:27:00