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Carnegiea gigantea (photo courtesy of Jennifer Cheung)
Carnegiea gigantea (photo courtesy of Jennifer Cheung)

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Zone
Zones 12, 13, 18-21
Full Sun
Full
Minimal Water
Minimal

Carnegiea gigantea

Saguaro
Cactaceae
Cacti and succulents

Long-lived Sonoran desert native grows very slowly to 50 ft. tall; in the wild, may be a column only 3 ft. high after 30 years. Typically produces branches after attaining 12–15 ft. Prominent ribs give a fluted appearance; they allow the plant to expand when they take up water, and shrink during drought. Light brown, 1/2–3-in.-long spines. Mature plants bloom in late spring; 3–5-in. long, single white blossoms (the state flower of Arizona) open at night and remain open until the next afternoon. Edible oval fruits, sometimes mistaken for flowers, split open to show red pulp. This is a protected species. When buying a mature specimen, be sure it was collected legally.

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