Form: columnar cactus; branching when mature
Carnegiea gigantea in its natural setting in the desert
around Tucson, Arizona
(photo by Charles Wiggins)
Size: to 25 or even fifty feet, extremely slow growth
Flowers: white, open crown on top of trunk and limbs develop in May; sweet-scented
Fruit: red, 3-4in long, oval, edible (and tasty) but spiny
Stems/Trunks: vertically ribbed with clusters of stout spines along ribs
Range/Origin: native to the Sonoran desert of Arizona and Mexico
Hardiness: terminal growing tip can be permanently damaged during prolonged periods below freezing (several nights in a row)
- dramatic, classically "western" plant
- vertical accent in cactus garden
- attracts birds (for fruit and nesting sites)
- Exposure: full sun
- Water: natural rainfall; supplement in January and July of drought years
- Soil: unimproved desert soil
- Propagation: seed
- Maintenance: none
spines along ribs of
Research by Master Gardener Devona Painter
An icon of the American Southwest.
The flower is the state flower of Arizona.
For naturalist large-scale plantings, mix with its associated plants: greasewood, catclaw acacia, paloverde, ironwood and low-growing prickly pear varieties.
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