The Saguaro Awards

The Saguaro Awards

This whole blog post is dedicated to the saguaro cactus. We live among the saguaros and have taken many, many photos of them. The saguaros in this blog were photographed since we came down here in December.

We’ll start with the most famous. This cactus in the Tortolita Preserve has its own sign: “Strong-Arm Saguaro.” Its one of the biggest we’ve seen.

We ride our mountain bikes past it often. This photo gives you a better sense of how big it is.

If the saguaro on the left had a sign it would be, “Small-Arms Saguaro.”

These saguaros are within a fifteen minute walk from our place. They win, “Favourite Saguaro Grove.” Saguaros have a relatively long lifespan. Some could live 175 to 200 years. After about 75 years, it may sprout its first branches, or arms.

This one is one of the tallest we have seen. Also, it is on the trail to Sombrero Peak, so it wins: “Tallest Saguaro at Elevation.” A saguaro rarely reaches 15 metres in height and occasionally 12 metres. More commonly they are 10 metres tall. If Doug is used as a scale, (he is about 2 metres tall), this one seems to be 14 or 15 metres tall.

Saguaros grow from a seed and they struggle for their first years. The knife is in the photo below is about 10 cm long, so this little one isn’t much bigger than that. A 15 cm saguaro is estimated to be 9 years old, but growth is dependent on the amount of water it receives. This little one was growing alongside the rough trail to Panther Peak. It wins: “Smallest Saguaro on the Trail.”

Most saguaros have one main stem with arms that branch out. Sometimes something causes two leaders to develop. This is the only one that we’ve seen with three. Its name is “Triple Top.”

This saguaro is also unusual. The previous saguaro’s arms were all growing from the same level. This one has a “V” split, similar to how trees in Canada sometimes develop. Its the only one we’ve seen in our travels. Meet “Victory Saguaro.”

This group of saguaros have earned the award: “Growing in the Least Hospitable Place.” We viewed them from the trail to Sombrero Peak. The tallest one is probably 20 centimetres high.

Some saguaros grow in rare formations called cristate or “crested saguaro.” It is believed that its only found in one in every 10 000 saguaros. We’ve seen less than ten. This one is right beside a trail in the Sweetwater Preserve, where we’ve hiked several times. It was going to be the winner of the “Crested Saguaro” award, until we found another more interesting one. But its still pretty special, and we take its photo every time we pass it. It is awarded, “Favourite Crested Saguaro.”

This is the winner of the “Most Unusual Crested Saguaro” award. In all the other crested saguaros that we have seen, the abnormal growth is along the top. This one has grown sideways. Its also not very tall, perhaps 3 metres high.

This is the “Grotesque” Category. Sometimes the saguaro arms grow in strange ways. Here are our favourites.

Saguaros can still live when parts have been destroyed. This one is awarded with: “Beat up but Still Alive.”

But the following saguaro is awarded: “Beyond Beat Up but Still Alive.” Obviously the central section must still be intact enough to provide nutrients to the one living arm.

When saguaros die, their outer shell disintigrates and eventually falls off, leaving the framework of long, woody ribs.

This one is along our daily loop walk so earns, “Friendly Neighbourhood Saguaro Skeleton.”

We saw these two saguaro skeletons on a ridge in the Tortolita Mountains. Their award is: “Together in Life and Death.”

This skeleton in the Tortolita Mountains is beautiful, so is awarded: “Splitting Pretty.”

The “Best Saguaro Skeleton” award goes to this one, found in Saguaro National Park (West).

Perhaps you’ve had your fill of saguaros, but if not, our next blog posts will for sure include photos with saguaros. They can’t be avoided around here!