Saguaro Fruit

The sweet, red, edible fruit of Saguaro (Carnegiea gigantea) cacti ripen in the middle of June to early July. The Tohono O’odham people call this time Ha:sañ Bak Masad, the month to gather Saguaro fruit (Ha:sañ is pronounced "Hawshawn" and means Saguaro). However, most of these luscious red fruits with their abundant black seeds are not gathered by humans, most Saguaro fruits are instead eagerly consumed by a wide variety of wildlife.

Saguaro fruits split open into flowerlike shapes when ripe, and I observed this little Verdin (Auriparus flaviceps) busily eating the freshly exposed red flesh on the Saguaro fruit "petals".

Saguaro (Carnegiea gigantea) fruit and a Verdin (Auriparus flaviceps)

Despite the risk of getting all dirty and sticky, the Verdin was even crawling inside the partly opened Saguaro fruits, probably because these were the freshest and the juiciest.

Saguaro (Carnegiea gigantea) fruit and a Verdin (Auriparus flaviceps)

Verdins have a love for sweet juice, and I will often see them consuming spilled nectar at my hummingbird feeders.

The sky was dark gray in the above photos because a severe thunderstorm was just minutes away. Thunder was already rumbling overhead and the temperature had dropped dramatically, but the busy little Verdin didn't seem to notice.

Category:  Arizona Wild Plants