Saguaro cacti, Ironwood Forest National Monument, Arizona  

Saguaro cacti, Ironwood Forest National Monument, Arizona

Massive succulents against a mountainous backdrop, underneath the sun-kissed Arizona sky—it"s prickly perfection. Pictured here are saguaro (pronounced "sah-wah-roh") cacti at the Ironwood Forest National Monument in the Sonoran Desert. Even if you haven"t seen one in person, when you hear the word cactus, you"re probably thinking of saguaro—tall, green, cylindrical, with arms pointing upward. From tattoos to coffee cups, you"ll find this iconic symbol of Arizona on almost everything. Though they are slow growers, these plants have been known to live over 200 years and reach enormous heights, with a 78-footer setting the record. Another cactus, known as "Grandaddy," survived in the sweltering desert for about 300 years, eventually succumbing to old age in the early 1990s. Cacti may not be for everyone, but they tend to grow on you (figuratively, of course)!

© Jack Dykinga/Minden Pictures

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