Origin Of The Saguaro And Palo Verde Cacti

: Myths And Legends Of California And The Old Southwest

Pima (Arizona)

Once upon a time an old Indian woman had two grandchildren. Every day

she ground wheat and corn between the grinding stones to make porridge

for them. One day as she put the water-olla on the fire outside the

house to heat the water, she told the children not to quarrel because

they might upset the olla. But the children began to quarrel. They upset

the olla and spilled the water and their
randmother spanked them.

Then the children were angry and ran away. They ran far away over the

mountains. The grandmother heard them whistling and she ran after them

and followed them from place to place. but she could not catch up with


At last the older boy said, "I will turn into a saguaro, so that I shall

live forever and bear fruit every summer."

The younger said, "Then I will turn into a palo verde and stand there

forever. These mountains are so bare and have nothing on them but rocks,

I will make them green."

The old woman heard the cactus whistling and recognized the voice of her

grandson. So she went up to it and tried to take the prickly thing into

her arms, but the thorns killed her.

That is how the saguaro and the palo verde came to be on the mountains

and the desert.