131. Saguaro

(Pronunciation of ‘saguaro’ found here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IT8TNY71B7s)

The saguaro is famous as a symbol of the Wild West. Unfortunately, today the saguaro and most other species of cactus are threatened in the wild and, therefore, protected.

Native Americans living in the Sonoran Desert regarded saguaros as ancient beings—because they appear to have torsos and arms. 

Like all columnar cacti, saguaros have pleated trunks that expand to take in water during the rainy season—and then contract as water is used during dry periods. A fully hydrated large stem can weigh more than 80 pounds per foot. However, even very tall saguaros have shallow roots, making them easy targets for illegal collection.

The saguaro grows very slowly and does not develop arms until it is at least seven feet tall and 50 to 100 years old. It is the only species of columnar cactus hardy enough to survive in the colder, northern reaches of the Sonoran Desert in Arizona and California.