Carnegiea Giganta      
Cactaceae Family     

Compiled by the Master Gardeners
of the University of Arizona Pima County Cooperative Extension.


Saguaro cactus
Carnegiea gigantea in its natural setting in the desert
around Tucson, Arizona
(photo by Charles Wiggins)
Form: columnar cactus; branching when mature
Seasonality: evergreen
Size: to 25 or even fifty feet, extremely slow growth
Leaves: spines
Flowers: white, open crown on top of trunk and limbs develop in May; sweet-scented
Fruit: red, 3-4in long, oval, edible (and tasty) but spiny
Stems/Trunks: vertically ribbed with clusters of stout spines along ribs
Range/Origin: native to the Sonoran desert of Arizona and Mexico
Hardiness: terminal growing tip can be permanently damaged during prolonged periods below freezing (several nights in a row)


close-up of spines
spines along ribs of
Carnegiea gigantea



Research by Master Gardener Devona Painter


An icon of the American Southwest.
The flower is the state flower of Arizona.

For naturalist large-scale plantings, mix with its associated plants: greasewood, catclaw acacia, paloverde, ironwood and low-growing prickly pear varieties.

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This page was first created May 31, 2004 and last modified June 3, 2006.

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