Giant Water Tanks of the Desert
A VERITABLE living water tank! That is what the giant saguaro cactus could be called. Why? Because of the amount of water that this desert plant can soak up and store. You see, rain does not fall for many months in the desert. But when it does, the saguaro cactus will soak up enough water to keep living and bearing fruit and blossoms for a year or even longer. And when it is filled with water it can weigh five or more tons.
Close study of this cactus water tank tells us that it is ideally suited for its desert home. Rather than having a long taproot that could not survive in the desert sands, this cactus has long near-surface roots that spread out in all directions from its main stem. When it rains, these roots will take in water from the sand as fast as it falls. Also its “skin” or smoothly waxed outer shell is grooved to expand like an accordion when it is taking in water. Further, the inside of this waxy, watertight shell is filled with a spongy material that absorbs the water taken in by the roots.
Now, what keeps the saguaro cactus from flopping over into a heap? The Creator designed it with a skeleton of runglike supports or hard cells one to two inches thick running through its trunk and branches. These also serve to help carry water up into the spongy tissue.
Look at the size of the saguaro cactus! Some specimens have grown to a height of fifty or more feet, with their main trunk being two feet in diameter. And some are believed to be more than two hundred years old.
Where can you see these giant water tanks? In the Sonoran Desert in southwestern United States, especially in the area that is known as Saguaro National Monument.