June 2, 2014


Saguaro Skeleton

"Saguaro Skeleton",  a dead saguaro cactus at Saguaro National Park

The roots of a saguaro grow out from the plant in a radial fashion, several inches under the ground. During a heavy rain, a saguaro will absorb as much water as its root system allows.

To accomodate this potentially large influx of water, the pleats expand like an accordion. Conversely, when the desert is dry, the saguaro uses its stored water and the pleats contract.
Saguaros are also limited by elevation. They are generally found growing from sea level to approximately 4,000 feet in elevation. Saguaros growing higher than 4,000 feet are usually found on south facing slopes where freezing temperatures are less likely to occur or are shorter in duration.

Because the majority of a saguaro is made up of water, an adult plant may weigh 6 tons or more. This tremendous weight is supported by a circular skeleton of inter-connected, woody ribs.
The number of ribs inside the plant correspond to the number of pleats on the outside of the plant. As the saguaro grows, the ribs will occasionally fork and the corresponding pleat will also
fork at the same place.

Fallen Saguaro

Rain causes Saguaro to fall in Tucson, AZ

Fallen Saguaro You can see from these photos, that a saguaro doesn't have much holding it in the ground in terms of a root structure.

Saguaro National Park - Tucson Mountain District, West Unit
2700 North Kinney Road
Tucson, AZ 85743

Nikon F3

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