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Carnegiea gigantea

Higher Taxonomy
Family: CactaceaeView DescriptionDichotomous Key

Habit: Perennial herb, shrub, tree, generally fleshy. Stem: cylindric to spheric, or flat; surface smooth, tubercled, or ribbed (grooved); nodal areoles bearing flowers. Leaf: generally 0 or early-deciduous, flat to +- cylindric. Spines: areoles generally with central, radial spines, occasionally with glochids. Flower: generally 1 per areole, bisexual [unisexual], sessile, radial [bilateral]; perianth parts generally many [5], scale-like to petal-like; stamens many; ovary inferior [superior], style 1, stigma lobes generally several [many]. Fruit: dry to fleshy or juicy, indehiscent to variously dehiscent, spiny, scaly, or naked; tubercled or smooth. Seed: generally many, occasionally 0--few.
Genera In Family: +- 125 genera, +- 1800 species: America (especially deserts), Africa; many cultivated, some edible. Note: Spines smaller, fewer (0) in shade forms; yellow spines blacken in age. Introduced species increasingly escape cultivation. Hybridization common in some genera. Taxa of Escobaria in TJM (1993) moved to Coryphantha.
eFlora Treatment Author: Bruce D. Parfitt, except as noted
Scientific Editor: Bruce D. Parfitt, Douglas H. Goldman, Bruce G. Baldwin, Thomas J. Rosatti.
Genus: CarnegieaView Description 

Common Name: SAGUARO

Species In Genus: 1 sp.: California, Arizona, Mexico. Etymology: (Andrew Carnegie, American industrialist, philanthropist, 1835--1919)

Carnegiea gigantea (Engelm.) Britton & Rose
Habit: Tree, branches erect or ascending from sides of trunk, 1--10, generally 0 in basal 1.5--2 m. Stem: massive, 3--16 m, 30--75 cm diam, columnar, firm, not regularly segmented; ribs 12--30, prominent; tubercles +- 0. Spines: (8)15--28(50) per areole, 1--1.5 mm diam, stout, needle-like to awl-shaped, straight to +- curved; central spines (0)4--7 per areole. Flower: generally +- terminal, occasionally lateral, at distal edge of spine cluster, 8.5--12.5 cm, 5--6 cm diam; outer perianth parts green, margins lighter; inner perianth parts petal-like, white; ovary green, tubercled, scaly, scales triangular, spines 0 (or spines bristle-like), glabrous, style 10--15 mm. Fruit: 45--75 mm, 25--45 mm diam, obovoid to ellipsoid, dehiscent by 2+ vertical splits, red, occasionally thin-white-spined. Seed: 1.5--2 mm, obovoid, shiny, black. Chromosomes: 2n=22.
Ecology: Rocky hills, plains; Elevation: < 1500 m. Bioregional Distribution: e DSon; Distribution Outside California: southern Arizona, northwestern Mexico. Flowering Time: May--Jun
Synonyms: Cereus giganteus Engelm.
eFlora Treatment Author: Bruce D. Parfitt
Jepson Online Interchange
Listed on CNPS Rare Plant Inventory

Previous taxon: Carnegiea
Next taxon: Coryphantha

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botanical illustration including Carnegiea gigantea


Citation for this treatment: Bruce D. Parfitt 2016. Carnegiea gigantea, in Jepson Flora Project (eds.) Jepson eFlora,, accessed on May 03, 2016.

Citation for the whole project: Jepson Flora Project (eds.) 2016. Jepson eFlora,, accessed on May 03, 2016.

Carnegiea gigantea
click for enlargement
© 2010 Keir Morse
Carnegiea gigantea
click for enlargement
© 2010 Keir Morse
Carnegiea gigantea
click for enlargement
© 2010 Keir Morse
Carnegiea gigantea
click for enlargement
© 2010 Keir Morse
Carnegiea gigantea
click for enlargement
© 2010 Keir Morse
Carnegiea gigantea
click for enlargement
© 2011 California Academy of Sciences

More photos of Carnegiea gigantea in CalPhotos

Geographic subdivisions for Carnegiea gigantea:
e DSon;
Markers link to CCH specimen records. If the markers are obscured, reload the page [or change window size and reload]. Yellow markers indicate records that may provide evidence for eFlora range revision or may have georeferencing or identification issues.
map of distribution 1
(Note: any qualifiers in the taxon distribution description, such as 'northern', 'southern', 'adjacent' etc., are not reflected in the map above, and in some cases indication of a taxon in a subdivision is based on a single collection or author-verified occurence).

View elevation by latitude chart
Data provided by the participants of the Consortium of California Herbaria.
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CCH collections by month

Duplicates counted once; synonyms included.
Species do not include records of infraspecific taxa.
Blue line denotes eFlora flowering time.