Saguaro

Saguaro.  Pronounce it Suh war oh.

Saguaro are beautiful, strong, and unique. No two look alike yet when they are drawn or painted they get the generic treatment, cartoon round top and two arms. Like most “desert” souvenir the imagery is cliché and dated. A mighty Saguaro becoming just a cactus on a mug or a key chain…its wrongimage

As a society we have taken plants like roses and mass produced and modified them to the point that the ones at the grocery stores don’t even smell. What is the point of a rose if it doesn’t smell?

Yet this same society kicks and fights and screams about seeing one another as individuals, unique, not lumped into a category. Praised for being special. I guess the saying “You do you” doesn’t apply if you are a plant.image

Quite a few Saguaro live on the property we just bought. Some are definitely over a hundred years old with the others not that far behind. How do I know how old they are? Saguaro get their branches or arms anywhere from 50 to 70 years old. They get flowers on the top around 35 years.image

We are talking about a plant, a cactus, that typically lives 150 to 170 years!

Not sheltered in a green house. Not lightly misted by an ocean breeze. No this plant has seen year upon year of scorching heat in a desert that kills. It has lived without water for periods so long that the ground dried and cracked. Yet time and again men drop dead after only a few hours in the same harsh desert. Season upon season of monsoon winds sand blasting and drying, sun baking and burning. The Saguaro still stands.image

It has had its skin picked and torn to create shelter for the desert birds. Hawks use them as a perch to launch an attack.image

Saguaro live only in the Sonoran Desert and not even all of it because Saguaros don’t grow above 4000 feet typically and they don’t like freezing.

Oh and we grow slow. An inch to an inch and a half in the first EIGHT years. Inch to an inch and a half! This from a plant who will eventually tower over the landscape growing up to 50 feet!image

The fruit that grows on the top each contain about 2000 tiny black seeds. IMG_1416Now fun fact! If a coyote or a cactus wren eat the fruit is gets dispersed throughout the desert when they poop but if a quail or dove eats it then it just gets digested. I’m sure the birds still poop but it doesn’t help grow more Saguaros.image

Saguaro are not endangered but they are protected. I cannot just go out into my yard and dig one up. It’s called the Native Plant Protection Act.

Quite possibly one of the coolest thing I have ever seen is a Crested Saguaro. Go to http://www.nps.gov/sagu/learn/nature/why_crested.htm. I am on a mission to get my own photo of one.

Protect enough space where special things can continue to grow naturally. Truly start to value the real unmodified beauty that’s all around us. Don’t be willing to live in a world that would dismiss such a cool plant by turning them all into two armed cartoons.image

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