Best and Biggest Things Come in Small Packages

Arizona’s iconic Saguaros respond to the seasons as do other Sonoran Desert plants, but they have a unique system for coping with desert heat and uneven moisture. ¬†During the rainy season their accordion-pleated sides expand to hold as much water as possible for the dry times ahead.

Lots of spines protect the Saguaro from hungry animals

The expansion areas run between columns of spines

Once the desert temperatures reach 100 degrees Fahrenheit, the mature Saguaros begin to produce abundant waxy white flowers.

Blossoms crown the saguaro stem and arms

Blossoms crown the saguaro stem and arms

The Saguaro flowers open at night and are pollinated by bats, then birds and insects the next day.

The Saguaro flowers open at night and are pollinated by bats, then birds and insects the next day.

Three-inch-long fruits quickly form where the flowers were.

Three-inch-long fruits quickly form where the flowers were.

Sometimes hungry birds accidentally knock the fruit from the cactus

Sometimes hungry birds accidentally knock the fruit from the cactus.

Birds peck open and eat the fruit.

Birds peck open and eat the fruit.

The fleshy interior of the fruit is a rich red when ripe.

The fleshy interior of the fruit is a rich red when ripe.

The largest cacti in the world come from these tiny unassuming seeds.

The largest cacti in the world come from these tiny unassuming seeds.