Plant Fact Sheet: Saguaro Cactus Flowers and Fruit
Saguaro flowers are usually found near the tops of the stems and arms of the cactus. They are white in color about 3 inches (8cm) in diameter. They emit a strong smell, sort of like overripe melons.
During the night the flowers are pollinated by the lesser long-nosed bat and the Mexican long-tongued bat. During the daytime the flowers are pollinated by bees and birds such as the white-winged dove.
After the flowers have been pollinated they mature into bright red fruit. When the fruit ripens it split open showing juicy red pulp. Each fruit can contain up to 2000 small black seeds.
Uses of the fruit
Ripe fruit is an excellent source of food and moisture for many desert animals. Some of those animals include finches, woodpeckers, doves, bats, tortoise, javelina and coyote. Humans also eat the fruit of the saguaro. Tohono O'odham Indians have been harvesting the fruit for as long as they have lived in the desert.
Saguaro flowers bloom for less than 24 hours. They open at night and remain open through the next day. They only have that very short time to attract an animal to be pollinated.
©Copyright 2008, Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum