With its desert climate, Arizona is home to a number of unique species of cacti. These plants can differ greatly in their characteristics, but all possess the noted "spines" which have made cacti so intriguing. Listed below are three of the most popular species of cacti in the state of Arizona.
The defining characteristic of the Giant Saguaro is, as you may have guessed, its sheer size. The plant can grow up to 40-feet tall, sprouting numerous branches. It evolved into such an enormous plant out of necessity, as it had to outgrow the surrounding trees to have its flowers pollinated by insects and birds. Another interesting fact about the Saguaro is that it can store more than a ton of water at a time, allowing it to survive times of drought.
At heights of up to eight feet, the Branched Pencil Cholla is a dwarf in comparison to the Giant Saguaro. The thorns of this plant grow vertical to the stem, holding a barb at their tips. This allows this species of cholla to colonize in a unique way, as the barbs often become attached to animals (such as deer) that brush up against it and the animals carry the plant up to miles before it is dislodged.
Unlike the Giant Saguaro and the Branched Pencil Cholla, the Fish Hook Barrel Cactus is short and fat. It reaches lengths of almost two feet in diameter and six feet tall. Its unique spines give it the strange name, as they are long and curved like fish hooks. Any species of cacti can cause pain to humans, but, because of the Fish Hook Barrel's unusual spines, it is particularly devastating to anyone who may wander into it.