Why do the cactus’ arms droop?
Kevin Hultine, a plant physiologist at the Desert Botanical Garden, and Raul Puente-Martinez, a curator of living collections.
“According to Kevin Hultine, a plant physiologist at the Desert Botanical Garden, the chance is that a plant can exist for a very long time if it has a very large stem, lots of storage, and grows very slowly. Here, about 1,000 saguaro cactus can be found.
According to estimates, saguaros can live for 200 years or more. How much water they can retain is one of the keys to surviving in the desert.
When a saguaro cactus is around three meters tall, it develops its first arm. Contrary to popular assumption, it’s not a certain age, according to Hultine. The saguaro’s rate of growth is influenced by its environment, including the amount of water available.
“Hultine put the weight at 250 pounds and stated, “I would assume that right now it’s definitely storing 30 to 40 gallons of water just in that arm.”
More Arms Mean More Opportunities For Baby Saguaros
When you consider it, the purpose of growing all these arms is to increase the number of flowers, which increases the number of locations that possible pollinators can visit, according to Hultine.
More pollinators increase the amount of fruit, seeds, and chances of reproduction.
Because of their height, saguaros are easier to spot by hungry bats, bees, and birds who will pollinate their flowers.
“Hultine suggested imagining holding out your own arms while wearing weighted wristbands. “It would get quite hefty, wouldn’t it?
According to Hultine, the shape’s biomechanics make it simpler to support the weight.
Raul Puente-Martinez, curator of living collections at the Desert Botanical Garden, observed, “It is difficult to explain.
He has spent years researching cactus, and his college thesis was on the prickly pear.
One theory is that a saguaro’s skeleton might be harmed by a strong frost. The normally sturdy fibers known as the ribs are weakened and unable to support the weight of the arm, causing them to droop.
The Arizona Daily Star was informed by Mark Dimmitt, director of natural history at the Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum, that staff members had observed obvious freeze damage to saguaros on the lower museum grounds.
Because they grow so, so slowly—often just a few inches a year—cacti can be challenging to examine.
We often assume that everything in nature has an evolutionary function, but occasionally, unplanned occurrences take place that may not necessarily improve the fitness of the plant. If, however, they are not lethal, plants will survive, according to Hultine.
Some saguaro cactus, for instance, live their entire lives without putting on even one arm.
It’s common to encounter unique people inside a unique species, according to Hultine.
A persistent oddity is the crested saguaro. The growths on these cactus resemble fans.