Crested or Cristate Saguaros

Some saguaro cacti grow a crest formation.  These saguaros are called crested or cristate saguaro.  It still is not known why some saguaro cacti grow this way. Some believe that "saguaros are genetically programed with the ability to crest but require an external trigger to stimulate the gene." One such trigger is thought to be frost. The saguaros are about 60 to 80 years old when they start to form crests.  It is estimated that 1 in 200,000 saguaros is crested.

Places where you can see crested saguaros include:

  • The Desert Botanical Gardens (The garden has two.)
  • The Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum
  • University of Arizona Campus (northeast of Old Main)

See The National Park Service Crested Saguarosopens a new window.



"Cristate Saguaros." Arizona Daily Star.  June 9, 2004. Page E1

Crested Saguarosopens a new window | U.S. National Park Serviceopens a new window

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