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    Saguaro

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Human Use of Saguaros

Archeological evidence indicates that the Hohokam people of the Tucson area used the saguaro in their daily lives. The strong, woody ribs were gathered to construct the framework for the walls of their homes.

Additionally, saguaro ribs were used to collect saguaro fruits, which grow high up on the plant. Several ribs were tied together with a cross piece at the end. These long poles were used to knock ripe fruit down from the top of the plants. It would then be gathered to eat. The present day Tohono O’odham are believed to be descendents of the Hohokam. In the O’odham culture, the saguaro is a sacred plant, to be given utmost respect. The calendar is based on the cycles of the saguaro, and includes ceremonies involving the saguaro such as one that involves the making of wine from saguaro fruits.

 
saguaro fruit harvesting

NPS PHOTO

The present day Tohono O'odham continue to gather saguaro fruit just as their ancestors did. They use the sweet fruits to make the ceremonial wine as well as jelly and candies. They also use the high protein saguaro seeds as chicken feed.

Did You Know?

Javelina

"Don't call ME pig!" Javelinas are able to eat spiny prickly pear pads with no obvious harm to their mouths, stomachs or intestinal tracts due to an enzyme in their saliva. Javelinas are not true pigs, they are peccaries, which are native to the Americas. True pigs are native to Europe and Asia. Wild pigs and boars are descended from true pigs brought over on boats to the new world.