Tuesday, February 15, 2011
S is for SAGUARO
The Rogue Speaks:
Our letter for Jenny's Alphabe-Thursday is "S," and here is my offering:
The saguaro(pronounced suh-WAR-oh), the largest cactus in the United States, is found exclusively in the Sonoran Desert. I am lucky to live in the Sonoran Desert, so I see these cacti every day! They are really huge! They can grow as high as 60 feet, and if we have a good monsoon season, they can weigh between 3200-4800 pounds! The saguaro has a taproot that goes down around two feet into the soil, but the other roots are only 4 to 6 inches deep and go out as far from the plant as it is tall.
Saguaros grow very slowly, and a ten-year-old may only be a couple of inches tall! The saguaro begins to grow "arms" when it is about 40 to 50 years old. I love those arms! Whenever we have been away for a while and I see the first one on the way home, I feel like those arms are greeting me. "Come over here so I can give you a big hug," it seems to say. Unfortunately, the long, sharp thorns can be very painful.
Saguaros can be very whimsical, and lend their photos to some interesting captioning.
I have a small collection of saguaro photos that always make me smile!
Little baby saguaros grow in the shade of a shrub or small tree, called a "nurse tree" because they shelter the baby from the hot sun. Since the saguaro can live to be 200 years old, by the time they reach maturity, the "nurse" is long gone.
The saguaro bloom is the Arizona state flower. The flowers grow and bloom on the tips of the saguaro's trunk or arms in May and June. The blossoms are very fragrant. They draw bees and bats who pollinate the flowers which then turn into red, seeded fruit that the birds and animals love.
The saguaro also houses the Gila woodpecker. This fellow hollows out holes in the trunk and makes its nest. The hollowed out portion dries and scars on the inside, forming what is called a "boot."
A friend found this boot (shown above) while hiking in the desert and brought it home to me. If you look closely at my painting at the beginning of this post, you can see the holes that the woodpeckers have made in the saguaro so they can build their nests.
Eventually the giants of the Sonoran Desert die, either from old age, severe draught, or damage by vandals. After they are gone, the sturdy ribs remain, and are used to build fences, or ramadas, or even furniture. In the picture below, you can see two boots still attached.
I hope you have enjoyed this post about our beloved saguaros. Next week our letter is T. Hmmm--wonder what I will come up with for that letter??