Description: A towering cactus with upraised "arms," large white flowers, and red fruit.
Other uses: The saguaro fruit is an important seasonal food, available after the season called the “Painful Moon” or “Hunger Hurting Moon.” The beginning of the Tohono O’odham and Piman year is haashañ bahidag mashad, the “Saguaro Harvest Moon.” In June and early July, O’odham live in temporary camps in the saguaro forests and conduct the saguaro fruit harvest (hasañ bahidaj). Women use poles made from saguaro ribs to knock down saguaro fruits. The pulp is boiled down to a syrup and prepared as a wine that is consumed during the rainmaking ceremony. The seeds may be dried for a winter snack, or ground into flour and made into a gruel. The Pima have traditionally dried the fruit and prepared it as jam and syrup - ground seeds were mixed with grains to make a porridge or peanut butter-like paste.
Kimberley A. Ryan, Northern Arizona University Anthropology Laboratories