Desert Giant: The World of the Saguaro Cactus, by Barbara Bash ISBN 0316083070
Five out of five stars
This book is educational in that it describes the ecological role that one of the primary forms of plant life in the deserts of the American southwest plays. It is the Saguaro cactus, A slow grower, individual plants can grow to over seventy feet tall and live for 150 years.
The cactus produces flowers in the spring that provide nourishing nectar for many different species that serve as pollinators and their fruit is sweet and nutritious. The Native Americans constructed long poles to knock the ripened fruit off the plants so that they can be consumed. Other species also consume the fruit and help spread the seeds around.
Many different animals construct nests in the Saguaro, some bore into the plant while other make their nests in the branches. As happens to all living things, the plants age and then fall to the ground, where they decay, providing shelter and sustenance for many ground dwelling creatures.
All of this is covered in this book, it is an exercise in explaining the niche that the Saguaro fill. The text is roughly at the level of the third grader and the images are detailed and informative. I strongly recommend this book as an educational supplement for science classes that are covering the biological diversity of the desert. Adults will also find information of interest.