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Saguaro Cactus and the Sonoran Desert Ecosystem

hi this is miss our reporting from

Saguaro National Park in Arizona we're

talking about our iconic saguaro cactus

that's celebrated into our national park

it has a lot of great adaptations for

living in the desert you can see that

it's pretty big it's about 30 feet tall

that means it's pretty old they can grow

to be about a hundred and fifty years

old so they're kind of like the trees of

the desert but they can store water much

better than trees these cleats here in

the cactus are like accordion folded

paper the pleats expand as the cactus

absorbs water just like one of those

accordion water jugs if you've seen one

of those and they contract as the cactus

loses water in the summer so the cactus

can expand and contract quite a bit

depending on how much water it's holding

and there's a lot of fleshy tissue

underneath this green waxy cuticle that

keeps water from escaping and that

fleshy tissue holds water and the waxy

cuticle here the stuff on the surface it

doesn't feel like a regular plant in

Minnesota it's very waxy and that keeps

water from escaping another thing that

helps the cactus hold on to its water is

the spine they're a little bit of shade

for the cactus and they keep animals

from biting into the cactus and stealing

water that way another adaptation the

cactus has to survive in the desert you

think of the cactus is kind of big and

squishy but on the inside it has ribs 18

to 21 ribs that hold it up and they're

very woody this is almost like a stick

this is from a dead cactus if you look

on the inside you take like a slice of a

cactus on the inside inside the squishy

stuff there's a ring of ribs that hold

the cactus up just kind of like a tree

wood some other adaptations this cactus

has for living in the desert is a lot of

roots

this cactus is about 30 feet tall and

the roots spread out in every direction

about 30 feet so if we draw a circle

around this cactus where the roots are

we'd have to draw a circle that was 60

feet in diameter all around the cactus

and the roots are very shallow because

the rain here doesn't penetrate the soil

very much you can see that the soil is

very rocky and Sandy and it doesn't get

a lot of moisture so the cactus has to

be able to pick up the moisture that

falls very quickly so the roots are very

shallow another adaptation the cactus

has is it makes a callus when animal is

kind of drill in here it makes a

catalyst around that hole and although

the cactus has adapted to the animals

the animals have also adapted to the

cactus you can see there are holes here

where animals have crawled into the

cactus to make it home and there are a

couple of holes way up there where

woodpeckers and other birds have kind of

hollowed out part of the cactus to live

in the cactus and then later other

animals will live there like perhaps elf

owls which are small owl that lives in

the desert or even reptiles so there's a

lot of adaptations in this cactus and

animals have a soul adapted to the

cactus this is war

so the saguaro cactus is a pretty darn

cool thing in the desert this mists are

signing up from Saguaro National Park