Jepson eFlora: Taxon page
Vascular Plants of California
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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

Etymology: (Andrew Carnegie, American industrialist, philanthropist, 1835--1919)
eFlora Treatment Author: Bruce D. Parfitt
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.
Jepson eFlora Author: Bruce D. Parfitt
Index of California Plant Names (ICPN; linked via the Jepson Online Interchange)
Listed on CNPS Rare Plant Inventory

Previous taxon: Carnegiea
Next taxon: Coryphantha

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Botanical illustration including Carnegiea gigantea

botanical illustration including Carnegiea gigantea


Citation for this treatment: Bruce D. Parfitt 2012, Carnegiea gigantea, in Jepson Flora Project (eds.) Jepson eFlora,, accessed on December 06, 2022.

Citation for the whole project: Jepson Flora Project (eds.) 2022, Jepson eFlora,, accessed on December 06, 2022.

Carnegiea gigantea
click for enlargement
© 2010 Keir Morse
Carnegiea gigantea
click for enlargement
© 2010 Keir Morse
Carnegiea gigantea
click for enlargement
© 2013 Barry Rice
Carnegiea gigantea
click for enlargement
© 2012 Neal Kramer
Carnegiea gigantea
click for enlargement
© 2013 Barry Rice
Carnegiea gigantea
click for enlargement
© 2013 Barry Rice

More photos of Carnegiea gigantea in CalPhotos

Geographic subdivisions for Carnegiea gigantea:
e DSon
1. You can change the display of the base map layer control box in the upper right-hand corner.
2. County and Jepson Region polygons can be turned off and on using the check boxes.
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).


Data provided by the participants of the  Consortium of California Herbaria.
View all CCH records
All markers link to CCH specimen records. The original determination is shown in the popup window.
Blue markers indicate specimens that map to one of the expected Jepson geographic subdivisions (see left map). Purple markers indicate specimens collected from a garden, greenhouse, or other non-wild location.
Yellow markers indicate records that may provide evidence for eFlora range revision or may have georeferencing or identification issues.

CCH collections by month

Duplicates counted once; synonyms included.
Species do not include records of infraspecific taxa, if there are more than 1 infraspecific taxon in CA.
Blue line denotes eFlora flowering time (fruiting time in some monocot genera).