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.
return to common name index return to Botanical name index browse by
This page was first created May 31, 2004 and last modified June 3, 2006.
Web page design and photographs by Toni Moore, Master Gardener
email to: email@example.com
© 2004 - 2006 Arizona Board of Regents. All contents copyrighted. All rights reserved.