This cactus, also known as Carnegiea gigantea , is the famous 'classic' cactus often seen in 'westerns', and depicted in most 'cactus' pictures, plastic cactus, etc. Saguaros grow very slowly, but may reach 50 feet or more in height. Their spines may be up to 3 inches long. They are native to Arizona, far eastern California, and far northern Mexico. They bear large white flowers, and juicy, edible fruit.

The best place to see these cacti is the preserve west and south of Tucson, Az. They are very picturesque, and are truly awesome in the moonlight on a hot summer night, backdropped by lightning. It is also amazing being in a windstorm in the desert, with tumbleweeds blowing by, dust everywhere, and the small brushes tossing in the breeze. The cactus remain totally still. During the rare but copious summer thunderstorms, they soak up water with their shallow roots and actually swell, storing the water in their huge stems. In some heavy rainstorms, these cactus have even been documented to explode upon taking in too much water. During dry periods, they shrink as the water is used.

If you live in a desert environment, these are beautiful plants in the landscape. If you live somewhere wet, don't plant one, it will rot. Also, extreme cold may kill them, although they are hardy to light freezes (the desert is quite cold in the winter). Since they are slow growing, they can be kept in the garden, or even in a pot, for many, many years. However, don't expect them to grow to large size very fast. Many of the larger specimines are hundreds of years old