Travel Photography – Saguaro Cactus in Scottsdale Arizona

While Shaun and I were on our Southwestern United States road trip to Burning Man, we stopped to visit some very awesome friends who live in Scottsdale (who… shhhh…. we met on World of Warcraft!). I always like take advice from local friends on where to explore. Not only do they give you the uber secret local places to go but are also aware of the super awesome touristy places to discover as well. How can you not be cliche in Scottsdale, Arizona? We all hopped into the car and headed into the saguaro cactus filled desert mountains.

We came across what appeared to be a western “Disneyland” full of fake and AWESOMENESS. While meandering our way through kitschy Western antique stores, I found this beauty of a saguaro cactus.

saguaro cactus

The saguaro (/səˈwɑroʊ/; scientific name Carnegiea gigantea) is an arborescent (tree-like) cactus species in the monotypic genus Carnegiea, which can grow to be over 20 meters (~70 ft) tall. It is native to the Sonoran Desert in the U.S. state of 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.

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

Saguaros have a relatively long life span. They may grow their first side arm anywhere from 50 to 75 years of age, but some never grow one at all. A saguaro without arms is called a spear.

The arms are grown to increase the plant’s reproductive capacity (more apices lead to more flowers and fruit). The growth rate of saguaros is strongly dependent on precipitation; saguaros in drier western Arizona grow only half as fast as those in and around Tucson, Arizona. Some specimens may live for more than 150 years;[1] the largest known saguaro is the Champion Saguaro. It grows in Maricopa County, Arizona, and is 13.8 meters (45.3 ft) tall with a girth of 3.1 meters (10 ft). These cacti can grow anywhere from 40 to 60 feet. They grow slowly from seed, and never from cuttings. Whenever it rains, saguaros soak up the rainwater. The cactus will visibly expand, holding in the rainwater. It conserves the water and slowly consumes it. – Wikipedia

18 Responses to “Travel Photography – Saguaro Cactus in Scottsdale Arizona”

  1. Katrina February 4, 2011 at 6:35 am #

    An aunt and uncle of mine lived in Tucson for a several years while completing their PhDs. They had a friend from Texas who absolutely could *not* say, “saguaro” (suh-WAHR-o). They convinced her that she could, after pointing out that she pronounced “barbed wire” as “BOB wahr.” I think she still had trouble, but managed to choke out the word correctly once or twice, lol.

    • Erica February 4, 2011 at 7:37 pm #

      @Katrina: Wow – you have to live out in the boonies to have that much of an accent in Texas!

  2. Jason February 4, 2011 at 4:12 pm #

    Great capture Erica. It makes it look massive. I’d love to get to spend a day or so taking photo’s of the Cacti in the Southern States. How tall actually is it?

    • Erica February 4, 2011 at 5:37 pm #

      @Jason: I would have put it at 20 ft or so? This thing was huge!

  3. Sarah Wu February 5, 2011 at 12:30 am #

    I remember I revived a brochure of a resort in Scottsdale. It’s pictures of alot Cactus and I wonder how big are they. Now that I see this, I know some of them are huge. lol.

    • Erica February 5, 2011 at 12:49 am #

      @Sarah: If the cacti are like the saguaro, you’re looking at 10+ ft tall. They are SUPER HUGE!

  4. Laurence February 5, 2011 at 2:24 pm #

    Lovely angle on the cactus, and effective use of black and white. Great shot!

    • Erica February 6, 2011 at 6:50 pm #

      @Laurence: Thank you!

  5. Giulia February 5, 2011 at 8:07 pm #

    Oh I love the angle :) What lens did you use? *curious me*

    • Erica February 6, 2011 at 6:52 pm #

      This was actually done with a kit lens – 18-50mm that came with the camera.

  6. Bethany February 7, 2011 at 2:03 am #

    Love it!

  7. dtravelsround February 9, 2011 at 8:09 pm #

    Beautiful! I love Saguaros!

    • Erica February 9, 2011 at 11:31 pm #

      @D: They are so striking!

  8. Laura February 9, 2011 at 10:19 pm #

    I really love how you got right under the cactus to shoot it. A nice, dramatic angle!

    • Erica February 9, 2011 at 11:33 pm #

      @Laura: I couldn’t help it! It was towering over us while we were walking around. It basically begged for a picture!

  9. Lorna - the roamantics February 28, 2011 at 4:10 am #

    this is gorgeous! love the perspective- really goes a long way toward conveying the majesty of that cactus! and my mom, bro, nephew & niece live in scottsdale! :)

    • Erica February 28, 2011 at 4:34 pm #

      @Lorna: One of my best friends lives in Scottsdale! Saguaro cacti are so awesome. I would like to hug one – they are so magnificent – but that would end badly.

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