Saguaro (Carnegiea gigantea), Saguaro National Monument, Arizona. Saguaro cacti, with their vertical stems and arms, are the prime feature of the Arizona Desert. They are by far the largest native cactus in the United States with the greatest individuals growing over 50 feet tall and weighing more than nine tons! It is estimated that many of these old saguaros are more than 200 years old. In Arizona and Sonora the saguaro dominates steep mountainsides, alluvial fans, and desert valleys, sometimes in extensive forests. The large white flowers bloom in May and open after sunset where their primary pollinator, bats, work the flowers for nectar. Native Americans not only eat the cactus fruits, but use the long ribs of saguaro carcasses for shelters, fences, and poles for gathering the fruit that can grow quite high on the plant.
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