5 Oldest Cactus in the World
The record is amazing!

Do you think the Saguaro cactus is the only oldest species out there? Well, here are two more of the oldest cacti!

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Jimena Bolívar

July 04, 2021


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Introduction

Cacti are one of the oldest plants to exist, so much that the very first cactus appeared around 35 million years ago! And with so many cacti species out there, one could only imagine how old each may be. However, it’s quite surprising that the Saguaro is not the only species that grows tall (and old!). While most of the Saguaro species live very long, there are a few other cacti with phenomenal age records. 

Three of the four oldest cacti in the world have hailed from Arizona, United States. The average lifespan of a cactus is anywhere between 10 to 200 years. The four oldest cacti in the world are the Old Granddaddy, the Oro Valley Saguaro, the Mexican Giant Cardon, the Grand One, in addition to the Pereskia Eculeata species.

Oldest Cacti 101

Some of the oldest cacti are no longer alive, but the record for their phenomenal height and age keeps on living! Also, some cacti species don’t exclusively have a single plant as a record but have been existing, thriving, and surviving for many years.

Did you know that the Saguaro cactus is native only to the Sonoran desert, Arizona? To learn more about this species, I recommend you to have a look at these amazing Saguaro cactus facts !

1. Old Granddaddy

The first-ever cactus to cross the mark of the eldest.

Located in Arizona, the Old Granddaddy lived for up to 300 years until it finally breathed its last. Almost all Saguaro cacti grow to be super tall, but the Old Granddaddy cactus crossed even the 12-meter mark (40 feet).

The Old Granddaddy is a benchmark for estimating the age of other cacti too. And it wasn’t just known for its age or its height, but it also had many branches or arms, that was around 52!

Cause of death: Bacterial necrosis

This is a type of fungal disease that usually affects elder cacti. One clear, significant sign is that the plant turns brown when afflicted with this condition. 

Although the disease was severe, Old Granddaddy didn’t die suddenly. Instead, it got infected in 1992 and began to die gradually. 

2. Oro Valley Saguaro

Did you know that the Oro Valley Saguaro was transplanted to save it from road construction work?

A tall old saguaro cactus growing in the desert

The Oro Valley Saguaro cactus was more than 200 years old. Back in 2002, this 40 feet tall plant was about to breathe its last when some desert specialists moved it. 

The Oro Valley is situated in the state of Arizona, USA. Unlike an entire desert region, it is a suburban area with many inhabitants. 

Cause of death: Thunderstorm

Unfortunately, it died only a year afterward, not due to the transplant but because of lightning that struck it in a disastrous thunderstorm.

3. Mexican Giant Cardon

The Mexican Giant Cardon cacti even surpass the Saguaro cacti when it comes to age.

Mexican cardon cacti species growing in the desert

Of all the oldest cacti globally, the Mexican Giant Cardon is the only one still alive. It stands tall and proud, at the height of more than 60 feet.

Although we refer to one cactus here, the Cardon is a species of cactus itself that usually grows as tall and old as the Saguaro. So if you’ve ever thought Saguaro are the oldest and the most towering cacti out there, the Mexican Giant Cardons have given them a fair competition. 

Here are some incredible facts about the Mexican Giant Cardon:

  • This cactus species can grow taller than the Saguaro cactus
  • They exceed the average lifespan of a cactus; they can live up to 300 years. Whereas the typical cactus lifespan is 200 years maximum.

4. Grand One

Just another tall and old Saguaro cactus from Arizona!

This vast, old cactus had grown beside Horseshoe Lake, Arizona. Although the exact age of the Grand One was never figured out, it has been one of the largest. It grew to a height of 46 feet before it eventually died a slow death.

The Grand One even has an extensive base, which is around 7 feet. When this cactus made it into the records, it was a wild hunch that the cactus was somewhere between 180 to 300 years old. Sadly, the exact age of this cactus couldn’t be determined because the cactus got killed by fire. 

Cause of death: Damage by fire

The most astonishing fact is that the Grand One didn’t succumb suddenly to the fire. Instead, it died only two years after the fire injuries (in 2007).

So definitely, the Grand One would have lived even longer had it not been for the fire.

5. The Pereskia Eculeata Miller

The Pereskia Eculeata is quite an extraordinary cactus specie.

A pereskia eculeata plant species

You’ll be surprised to know how old the Pereskia Eculeata is. Not only is this cactus species as old as 1858, but it also looks somewhat different than an ordinary cactus. Also known as the Rose cactus, these cacti look like tiny shrubs. 

It first began as a cactus in the Caribbean and the southern regions of South America. However, this species has spread far and wide over the few years. You could find this one worldwide, even though it has been banned in many countries just because it is considered a weed. Nonetheless, it’s one of the oldest flowering cacti and also produces edible fruit. 

Conclusion

Its height usually determines, all in all, the age of a cactus. The taller the cactus, the more likely it is older. At least for the species that can genuinely attain lofty heights, such as the Saguaro and the Mexican Giant Cardon.

The Saguaro species is one of the oldest growing cacti in the world. Some phenomenal, oldest Saguaro cacti include the Grand One, Old Granddaddy, and the Oro Valley Saguaro. However, the Mexican Giant Cardon species grow much taller and older than the Saguaro. Another old species is the Pereskia Eculeata cacti, which has been around since 1858, although there is no standalone cactus from this species.

There are many tall cacti in the Tonto National Forest in Arizona, just if you’re interested in exploring more! By now, I’m sure you must be curious to learn more about cacti, so do go through this wonderful post on how cacti thrive and survive in the desert.

How Does a Cactus Survive in the Desert? 6 Stunning Reasons Why Cacti Thrive!

Read ahead as we will be discussing all of the ways cacti have evolved to beat the odds and become the ultimate survivalists.

Jimena Bolívar Picture

By Jimena Bolívar

Easy Succulents Founder

My name is Jimena and I'm the the founder of Easy Succulents! I'm fascinated by this wonderful plants and I want to share with the world everything I know about them!

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Jimena Bolívar Picture

Jimena Bolívar

Easy Succulents Founder

My name is Jimena and I'm the the founder of Easy Succulents! I'm fascinated by this wonderful plants and I want to share with the world everything I know about them!

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