September 3, 2016

ARIZONA : Close up of cacti spikes - Saguaro National Park

Arizona Spines

Close up of cacti spikes in the Saguaro National Park, Tucson, Arizona

The saguaro (/səˈwɑːroʊ/, Spanish pronunciation: [saˈɣwaɾo]) (Carnegiea gigantea) is an arborescent (tree-like) cactus species in the monotypic genus Carnegiea, which can grow to be over 70 feet (21 m) tall. It is native to the Sonoran Desert in Arizona, the Mexican State of Sonora, and the Whipple Mountains and Imperial County areas of California. The saguaro blossom is the state wildflower of Arizona. Its scientific name is given in honor of Andrew Carnegie.

The common name saguaro came into the English language through the Spanish language, originating in the Mayo language.

The spines on a saguaro that is shorter than 2 m grow rapidly, up to a millimeter per day. When held up to the light or bisected, alternating light and dark bands transverse to the long axis of spines can be seen. These transverse bands have been correlated to daily growth. In columnar cacti, spines almost always grow in areoles which originate at the apex of the plant. A spine stops growing in its first season. Areoles are moved to the side and the apex continues to grow upwards. Thus, older spines are towards the base of a columnar cactus and newer spines are near the apex. Studies are underway to examine the relationship of carbon and oxygen isotope ratios in the tissues of spines of an individual to its climate and photosynthetic history (acanthochronology).

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