sa·​gua·​ro sə-ˈwär-ə How to pronounce saguaro (audio)
-ō How to pronounce saguaro (audio)
plural saguaros
: a tall columnar usually sparsely-branched cactus (Carnegiea gigantea) of dry areas of the southwestern U.S. and Mexico that bears white flowers and a scaly reddish edible fruit and that may attain a height of up to 50 feet (16 meters)

called also giant cactus

Illustration of saguaro

Illustration of saguaro

Did you know?

Venture into the Arizonan desert on a May or June morning and you may see the saguaro in bloom. For many of our readers (such as those living in Arizona and southeastern California), this sight - and the word saguaro - won't be anything new. Or perhaps you know this emblem of all things Southwestern simply as the "giant cactus." The word saguaro originated in Ópata, a language spoken by peoples of the Sonoran Desert region of Mexico. It came into English by way of the Spanish spoken by the Mexican settlers of the American West. The very saguaros we see today may well have been around when the word was first noted, some 150 years ago - this amazing cactus can live for up to 200 years.

Examples of saguaro in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web Pattern Energy officials said the company will be planting about 10,000 agave and 7,000 saguaro cactuses as part of restoration efforts and will be funding a plant salvage study as well as work to identify new agave species along the San Pedro River. Susan Montoya Bryan, Fortune, 14 Nov. 2023 Even the saguaro cacti, which are endemic to the Sonoran Desert, can’t cool off enough at night. Carolyn Kormann, The New Yorker, 6 Sep. 2023 In the Sonoran Desert, saguaro cacti that usually live about 150 years have been succumbing to the extreme heat, which weakened the plants’ skin tissues, Fox 10 in Phoenix reported. Jeremy C. Fox,, 1 Aug. 2023 Desert Discovery Trail in Saguaro National Park, Arizona The Desert Discovery Trail travels among the park’s impressive saguaro cacti, which can reach heights of 40 feet. Evie Carrick, Travel + Leisure, 12 June 2023 Construction harmed two sacred Tohono O’odham sites, and destroyed saguaro cactuses, the Government Accountability Office reported. Brandon Loomis, The Arizona Republic, 9 Sep. 2023 At the Desert Botanical Garden in Phoenix, several saguaro cacti dropped arms last week. Evan Bush, NBC News, 9 Aug. 2023 Photo of the day: Saguaro cacti are collapsing, dying in Arizona heat Arizona's saguaro cacti, a symbol of the U.S. West, are leaning, losing arms and in some cases falling over amid record-breaking extreme heat, researchers say. Jane Onyanga-Omara Julius Lasin usa Today, USA TODAY, 4 Aug. 2023 Taking precautions:Caring for your plants in extreme heat: When to water, how to prevent sunburn At the Desert Botanical Garden, three of the treasured institution's more than 1,000 saguaro cacti have toppled over or lost an arm in the last week, a rate that officials there say is highly unusual. Terry Tang, The Arizona Republic, 3 Aug. 2023 See More

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'saguaro.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History


Mexican Spanish, probably from Ópata (Uto-Aztecan language of Sonora, Mexico)

First Known Use

1856, in the meaning defined above

Time Traveler
The first known use of saguaro was in 1856


Dictionary Entries Near saguaro

Cite this Entry

“Saguaro.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 29 Nov. 2023.

Kids Definition


sa·​gua·​ro sə-ˈwär-ə How to pronounce saguaro (audio) -ˈwär-ō How to pronounce saguaro (audio)
plural saguaros
: a cactus of desert regions of the southwestern U.S. and Mexico that has a spiny branched trunk, bears white flowers and edible reddish fruit, and may reach a height of up to 50 feet (16 meters)

More from Merriam-Webster on saguaro

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