I love visiting the saguaro cactus forest of southern Arizona almost as much as any of this state's great landmarks, including Petrified Forest National Park and Grand Canyon National Park. The landscape intrigues me and no where is it better preserved than in Saguaro National Park.
Saguaro National Park is composed of two distinct districts which have different topography but both featuring the magnificent saguaro cacti, a defining plant and icon of the Sonoran Desert. These plants are the largest cacti in the United States, tree-like and usually developing branches (or arms) as they age; these arms generally bend upward and can number over 25. Like many cacti, saguaros are covered with protective spines, bloom with white flowers in the late spring, and have an edible fruit ripened by summer.
The saguaro can live as long as 150 - 200 years, grow up to 20 m tall (over 65 ft) and are a great living sponge, soaking in rain and holding it in reserve for the dry season. They have a shallow root system, usually not more than a few inches deep but extending out radially as wide as the cactus is tall. When they die, the ribs of wood were traditionally used to build fences, furniture, roofs.
I have one of these growing slowly in a pot a home. I wonder how tall it will get before I'm gone?