Skip to main content

Behold the Cardón! Photos of the Giant Cacti of North America

Unique creations

Cardon cactus - Unique creations

(Image credit: Linda & Dr. Dick Buscher)

Botanists from the Arizona-Sonoran Desert Museum, near Tucson, Arizona, have recently discovered that the cardón cacti have a "trioecious" breeding system. This means that different cacti have flowers with different morphology. Some produce only female flowers with ovaries but no pollen, some produce only male flowers producing pollen but no seeds and some have perfect flowers with both pollen and fertile ovaries.

Identifiable species

Cardon cactus - Identifiable species

(Image credit: Linda & Dr. Dick Buscher)

Because of their great size, cardón cacti are also known as elephant cactus or Mexican giant cordon. They are certainly the most recognizable plant species of the Baja Peninsula. The indigenous Seri people of the peninsula called the cactus giants "xaasj" and it provided them with a sustaining food source during the hot summer months, as well as tough, wooden ribs to support their homes and structures.