Cardon/Baja Saguaro

(Pachycereus Pringlei)

A Cardon cactus in the specimen bed.

Cardon can grow to 36 feet, and its spines are gray to white. There are three Cardon in the specimen beds nearest the solar field. They are still quite young and were less than 5 feet tall when planted during the original installation.

The Cardon is part of a family that consists of over 12 other large columnar cactus species under the genus Pachycereus (Greek for “thick” and “torch”). These botanical groupings for cactus are a bit fragile, and more phylogenic (genetic tracing) work needs to be completed. Not all cactus have had their genetic connections confirmed. In some groupings, they do not share the same taxonomic features and may later be determined to be unrelated. For now, they are grouped based on similar size and their candelabra structure. There are three species in the gardens that fall into this genus: Cardon, Fencepost, and Totem Pole.

When mature, they will display funnel-shaped, white flowers that will bloom both day and night, attracting multiple pollinators. This genus Pachycereus also has significant ethnobotanical uses by desert native cultures.

Distribution of Cardon includes the Sonoran Desert states of Sonora, Baja California, and Baja California Sur in Mexico. The Baja location is why it can be referred to as Baja Saguaro.

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