Tall Ones

This is a saguaro, one of the largest of all cacti.

It can grow to 15m high and its stem can be up to 60cm thick.

It grows very slowly, no more than about 2–3cm per year, and the largest plants may be as much as 200 years old.

The name saguaro sounds Spanish, but it actually comes from Ópata, a Native Mexican language.

During May and June a large saguaro might produce as many as 200 creamy white flowers, each one over 7cm across. Each flower opens during the night and dies by noon the next day.

Each fruit may contain as many as 4,000 seeds

Two birds, the gila woodpecker and the gilded flicker, will peck holes in the stem of the saguaro to make their nests. Later these holes might be used by other birds such as the elf owl, which is about the size of a sparrow. The bird on the left is a gila woodpecker.

The saguaro is probably the biggest and heaviest cactus in the United States, but the very tallest is known as the cardon cactus. This can grow up to 20m tall.

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