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Saguro Cactus

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Saguaro Cactus
The Saguaro is a giant cactus native to Mexico and Southeastern U.S. You can find the cactus almost anywhere in Southeastern California. The National Park is home to the cactus. This cactus is also found in the rocky terrain in Southern Arizona and in the Sonoran Desert. In addition, you can find them in Northwestern Mexico. The Saguaro cactus can be found on the warm south facing slopes.
The cactus can live for more than 150-200 years. Some cacti grow very long arms and some never grow one at all. If the cactus does grow an arm it takes 75 years to develop. Their arms are 15-50 feet long. A 100-200 year old cactus can grow 40-60 feet tall. However, a ten year old cactus is 1.5 inches tall. The stem is 18-24 inches. Surprisingly, the spines of the cactus are two inches long. They are located on the vertical rib and are covered with waxy skin. When the cactus grows the spines reach full size in their first season. The older spines are found on the base of the cactus and the new spines are near the apex. The spines always grow from aureoles (which are holes in the cactus) .The aureoles move to the side of the apex and continue to grow upwards. The Saguaro Cactus has a great root system. It is very shallow for such a heavy plant. It has one tap root and two sets of radial roots.
The Saguaro Cactus contains lots of fruit. The ruby red fruit are 2 ½ inches long. They ripen in June. This night blooming sweet ruby red fruit contains 2000 very tiny seeds. The fruit of the cactus cannot be picked by hand. It is harvested using cactus ribs and is prized by local people. When it reaches 35 years old it produces its first nectar. Between 50-60 years old, the cactus makes its first cream colored flower with yellow in the center. The flower is three inches long and you can find them on the end of the cactus arm. The major pollinators of this plant are the lessor long-nosed bat. They feed on the juicy nectar. The daytime pollinators are doves and bees. Humans eat the nectar of the plant. However, the fruit is limited due to the fear of extinction. There are many animals that eat the cactus. These animals include finches, woodpeckers and tortoises. Pack rats and pocket mice are the few animals that can chomp on the cactus. They find an empty spot on the cactus and feed on that part.
The Saguaro Cactus does not need a lot of water to survive. If they soak up too much water it will rot out and die. The cactus will live and grow well if elevation is lower than 4000 feet. If it is too high, cold weather will turn into frost and the frost will kill the plant. Cactus obtains most of their moisture during the rainy summer seasons. It loves the steaming hot weather and dry climate. It can survive up to 134 degrees.
The cactus has special adaptations that allow it to survive. The spines and roots are very important to the cactus. The spines protect it from the animals that would otherwise munch on the cactus. The downward spines help redirect the rainfall. The tap root is important because it extends more than three feet underground to collect water and nutrients needed for survival. Also, during the evening when the air is cooler, heat is released back into the air. This helps prevent the cactus from freezing during winter time. When it rains in the desert, the Saguaro soaks up the rainwater and consumes it slowly. The water stored helps protect it from heat extremes. The stem is also important because it extends during water uptake and prevents the plant from exploding. When the cactus is hurt, it will fix itself with the scar tissue of the cactus.
There are many interesting facts about the Saguaro Cactus. Did you know that the ribs of the cactus are used for roof construction? The spines of the cactus are often used as sewing needles. The cactus is also used as a logo in television commercials. This emblem symbolizes the Southwest. Finally, this plant is protected by the United States government because it was starting to disappear. Now, there is a national park to keep the cactus safe.

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