Nature’s water tower

Saguaro (sa-WAH-ro) are huge tree-like cacti found only in the Sonora Desert. They may reach 40-60 feet tall and live over a hundred years. White flowers bloom in the spring but only open at night. The Saguaro is pleated, and these expand with water after a rain. The pleats contract as the cactus uses the stored water during dry periods. The NC Zoo's Desert collection contains a legally wild collected (permitted) specimen of this plant.

Wildlife Facts
Common Name:
Scientific Name:
Carnegiea gigantea
Southern Arizona
  • White
  • Bees
  • Birds
  • Bats
Fun Facts:
  • The largest cactus in the US is also the state flower of Arizona.
  • Slow growing cactus, may be 75 years old before it grows an "arm" however; some never develop arms.
  • Food source and drink for Native Americans.
  • Pollinators include bats, insects and birds.
  • White Wing Doves consumes the seeds.
Plant Type:
  • Cactus/Succulent
Endangered Status
Endangered Status
  • Extinct in Wild (EW)
  • Critically Endangered (CR)
  • Endangered (EN)
  • Vulnerable (VU)
  • Near Threatened (NT)
  • Least Concern (LC)
  • Not Evaluated (NE)
Hardiness Zones

The USDA Plant Hardiness Zone Map is the standard by which gardeners and growers can determine which plants are most likely to thrive at a location. The map is based on the average annual minimum winter temperature, divided into 10-degree F zones.

USDA Hardiness Zones

9a (20 °F to 25 °F)

9b (25 °F to 30 °F)

10a (30 °F to 35 °F)

10b (35 °F to 40 °F)

11a (40 °F to 45 °F)

11b (45 °F to 50 °F)