As the new year begins, we may find ourselves reflecting on the importance of family. Our own Sonoran desert also displays the role family has in the life cycle of our silent giants, the saguaros. If you look closely, you can see families grow and fall together quietly through the years. It is just one of the wonders you can see in Arizona if you know what to look for.
Through the pollination of saguaros by birds, they will begin growing under the common Palo Verde tree. As the young cacti begin to grow, the Palo Verde will play the role of “nurse trees,” providing the young saguaros with shade and protection. These cacti will grow strong together in these sheltered groups unlike the solitary saguaros we typically see.
You may wonder what will happen to these saguaros over the course of time. They stand majestically throughout our desert landscape in the same clustered groupings that began their lifecycle a century ago. At their feet, the Palo Verde “nurse trees” that once protected them and helped them grow under the harsh Arizona sun.