Walking Among Giants

There are few places as diversified as California. We have dozens of mountain ranges, the crown jewel being the Sierra Nevada. Our deserts are seemingly endless, offering grand vistas and dapple-colored skies. There is the siren call of hundreds of miles of ocean beaches. Rivers and streams round out the enticement to visit.


Having spent considerable time in Arizona, there are two things California does not have: The Grand Canyon and Saguaros.

It had been quite a while since I had walked among the giant saguaro cacti. Having been pre-occupied with work, family and house (as I wrote about yesterday), last week gave me the opportunity to reacquaint myself with carnegiea gigantean, the scientific name for the saguaro. You can figure out the giant part of the name. The other part was named after Andrew Carnegie whose Carnegie Institution created the Desert Botanical Laboratory in Tucson, in 1903.

Saguaros can live up to 200 years and grow over 60 feet.

Saguaros only grow in the Sonoran desert, which covers southwestern Arizona, Southeastern California, and Baja California (Mexico).

When I stated earlier that California has no saguaros, that wasn’t exactly correct. Along a part of the Colorado River a few accidental saguaros grow. These are outcasts, small specimens that have deserted the great army of regal saguaros that thrive in the area around Tucson, Arizona.

Anyway, I decided to mix a little business with recreation and drove to Tucson for a business meeting. Heading east on I-10 you will not see a single saguaro until you cross the Colorado River into Arizona, where suddenly stands of saguaro appear in increasing regularity. These saguaros are small in comparison to the royal and plentiful saguaros around Tucson. With more plentiful rainfall in the Tucson area, the saguaros are taller, fuller, greener and more majestic. There is little more I can say in praise of these largest of American cacti, that they can convey themselves as they stand watch over the land.

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