Cactus blooms, uses, and meanings | Thomas Watkins

Saguaro Flowers

Bees pollinating a saguaro flower.

Aside from being Arizona's State Flower, Saguaro flowers are usually found near the tops of the stems and arms of the cactus during May and June. They are white in color about 3 inches (8cm) in diameter. They emit a strong smell, sort of like overripe melons.

Flower pollination

Saguaro flowers bloom for less than 24 hours. They open at night and remain open through the next day. They only have that very short time to attract an animal to be pollinated.

During the night the flowers are pollinated by the lesser long-nosed bat and the Mexican long-tongued bat. During the daytime the flowers are pollinated by bees and birds such as the white-winged dove.

Saguaro Fruit

After the flowers have been pollinated they mature into bright red fruit. When the fruit ripens it split open showing juicy red pulp. Each fruit can contain up to 2000 small black seeds.

Uses of the fruit

Ripe fruit is an excellent source of food and moisture for many desert animals. Some of those animals include finches, woodpeckers, doves, bats, tortoise, javelina and coyote. Humans also eat the fruit of the saguaro. Tohono O'odham Indians have been harvesting the fruit for as long as they have lived in the desert.

Here’s an interesting fact

Did you know that there is a whole market for “Flower Essence” and flower essence therapy? It’s a term that names the practice of using flower scents in a consistent, purposeful way to experience emotional harmony and spiritual well-being. Flower essences are used on their own or in conjunction with other healing techniques to support or change our emotional attitudes and the way we perceiving ourselves.

Some other tidbits of information regarding cactus flowers that extends beyond saguaro cacti

Claret cup Hedgehog Cactus (Echinocereus Coccineus) Kingcup Cactus Cold Hardy Ruby Red Flower


  • A cactus that produces bright red blooms are often given as a birthday gift. The red colors symbolize pure love and birth, like those produced by the Christmas cactus around Christmas time.
  • Yellow blooms symbolize strength and endurance, but a non-blooming cactus also symbolizes that.
  • White, orange, and purple blooming cacti have no separate meaning other than that of the plant itself – strength and endurance.
  • Green blooms mean good luck and prosperity.
  • Blue blooms represent faithfulness and loyalty.
  • Pink blooms signify happiness and joy.
  • White blooms mean purity and innocence.
  • Red blooms mean passion and romance.
  • Purple blooms mean wisdom and knowledge.
  • Orange blooms mean friendship and harmony