There are 51 native cactus species in Arizona, but the saguaro is unquestionably the most well-known. The cactus is unique to the lush Sonoran Desert of Arizona, as well as our southern neighbor state of Sonora, Mexico, and some regions of southeastern California. You may have seen one in a Western movie set in Texas or New Mexico, but odds are the scene was actually filmed here. Other interesting tidbits about the saguaro cactus include:
Although they are enormous, saguaro cacti grow slowly. Saguaros can develop up to 50 arms or branches and can reach heights of over 50 feet. The Saguaro cactus, meanwhile, only gains a foot of height per year and won’t develop an arm until it is at least 50 years old. Saguaros typically live between 150 and 200 years. Some of these cacti never develop arm growth. If so, it is referred to as a “spear.”
A saguaro cannot be harmed or damaged. While there are a few exceptions, it’s against the law in Arizona to stop a saguaro from growing naturally. It takes a specific permit to move and replant a saguaro if it comes in the way of building.
Saguaro cacti bear fruit and blooming flowers. Arizona’s official state flower is the saguaro blossom. The cactus blooms in the spring, along with the wildflowers that emerge in the Sonoran Desert every spring, with lovely flowers on the tips of its spear and arms. The brilliant red fruit, which has a moderate sweet flavor, is enjoyed by almost every desert species, including birds, bats, tortoises, javelina, and coyotes. Native Americans in Arizona, such as the Tohono O’odham, Pima, and Seri, used the entire cactus for food and tools. Even today, the fruit is used to produce products like jam, syrup, and wine.
Stay away from the saguaro! The saguaro has very sharp spines all over it, which may be noticeable. These spines absorb sunlight and collect rainfall just like leaves on a tree or bush would. They have a reputation for being as strong and sharp as steel needles, and they may hurt both people and animals. So gaze but don’t touch while shooting pictures!
Where in Arizona can I see tall cacti?
One of the biggest municipal parks in the country is South Mountain Park & Preserve, which is only a few miles south of the center of Phoenix. Saguaro cacti that have been flourishing there for years can be found on the park’s numerous paths and peaks. Dobbins Lookout, the highest point in the park at 2,330 feet, is one of the most well-liked locations. If you feel like taking a beautiful journey, you can get to Dobbins Lookout by car, bike, or foot. Enjoy the saguaros and the downtown Phoenix skyline while you’re there.
Where in Arizona can I observe cacti blooming?
Overall, Arizona offers a vast variety of flower kinds, flowering times, and viewing locations. It’s important to look very closely at those lovely blooms because they contain so much fine detail that it’s truly amazing how something so thorny can produce something so lovely. The cactus bloom may be seen there, and you can also learn more about the other wildlife and lovely blooming plants that Arizona has to offer.
Where in Arizona can I find cacti?
Although the wildflower season may be largely finished, another kind of bloom is bringing color to the desolate, dry environment. Many different cactus species have brilliant flowers that come in a range of colors and are quite stunning to behold.
Before leaving, check the websites or Facebook pages of some of these locations to see whether they are open or have changed their hours.
How many of these places have you been to when they are in bloom? Have we missed your favorite place? If you want to learn more about Saguaro National Park, let us know and read our earlier article: In this special national park in Arizona, about 2 million cacti flourish.
Are there any establishments, shops, or tourist sites in Arizona that you feel the world should be aware of? You might see your nomination mentioned in a future story, so head over to our nomination page and scream them out!
A cactus, where can I locate one?
Only a few hardy species of opuntia and escobaria are present in almost every US state and southern Canadian province, although they are much more common in the southwest’s arid areas. Cacti are prevalent in six US states, including (roughly) the following: Arizona (83), California (35), New Mexico (56), Nevada (26), Utah (34) and Texas (91).
The Sonoran, Chihuahuan, and Mojave deserts correspond to the lower elevations and southernmost places where the densest populations can be found. The hottest part of the Sonoran Desert in southeast California and southwest Arizona also has a relatively small number of species for the same reason. The best places to see cacti are south and southeast Arizona, south New Mexico, and far west Texas, especially in the Big Bend region. Of these three, the Mojave has somewhat fewer species due to its low rainfall.
The golden cereus, Munz’s cholla, coastal cholla, chaparral prickly pear, and San Diego barrel cactus are just a few of the rare cactus species that grow in California’s far southwest, close to San Diego, and down the coast into Santa Barbara. These can be seen in locations like Torrey Pines State Reserve, Santa Monica Mountains National Recreation Area, and Cabrillo National Monument, but the majority of California species are found in the southeasterly deserts, specifically in Mojave, Anza Borrego, Death Valley, and Joshua Tree National Parks. Joshua Tree is particularly fruitful because it is located on the border of the Sonoran and Mojave deserts, and as a result, has plants typical of both.
Arizona has two National Park Service (NPS) locations dedicated to particular cacti: Organ Pipe Cactus National Monument in the far south, bordering Mexico, and Saguaro National Park on either side of Tucson. With approximately 30 species, some of which are fairly rare (like senita), this latter area is one of the best cactus places in the entire state. Other cactus-filled desert preserves include Kofa NWR, Sonoran Desert National Monument, Cabeza Prieta NWR, Ironwood Forest National Monument, and Agua Fria National Monument. Several small state parks, like Catalina, Sabino Canyon, Lost Dutchman, and Alamo Lake, also provide an excellent introduction to the local flora. The region in the far southeast between Nogales and the Chiricahua Mountains, which is where certain plants from the adjacent Chihuahuan Desert may be seen, as well as some that are significantly more frequent over the border in Mexico, has the most uncommon species, except from Organ Pipe NM. Cacti, however, are abundant throughout the state; for instance, the Canyon De Chelly National Monument is home to 12 different species. A few areas in the north also contain some extremely rare species, such as the pediocactus bradyii in the Marble Canyon region and the sclerocactus sileri on the Kaibab Plateau. Visit a botanical garden, like the Boyce Thompson Arboretum in Superior or the Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum west of Tucson, if you want to observe a wide variety of plant species all in one spot.
Around 20 different varieties of cacti can be found in Nevada’s far south, on the edge of the Mojave Desert. These include the hills that border Lake Mead and Lake Mohave, the foothills of Mount Charleston, and Red Rock Canyon National Conservation Area. The most prominent species are the Engelmann’s hedgehog cactus, California barrel cactus, many headed barrel, five different varieties of cholla, and several opuntia. The Great Basin Desert covers the rest of the state, which has fewer cacti but still contains a few very unusual species (sclerocactus).
The majority of the state of Utah is covered in cacti, including the Colorado Plateau, the Uinta Basin in the northeast, and low-lying areas of the southwest (on the edge of the Mojave Desert). The well-known national parks (Arches, Capital Reef, Zion, and Canyonlands) are each home to more than a dozen species, and Utah contains about six forms of cactus that are unique to the US. However, there is no one optimum spot (sclerocactus and pediocactus species).
Over 50 cactus species can be found in the Chihuahuan Desert, which makes up the southern third of New Mexico. These species can be found in places like Oliver Lee Memorial State Park, the Carlsbad Caverns National Park backcountry, and (in a botanical garden setting) Living Desert State Park in Carlsbad.
With around 100 different cactus species, Texas is the state with the most. The majority are found along the Rio Grande, close to the Mexican border, particularly in the Big Bend region, in Big Bend National Park and Big Bend Ranch State Park. In particular, the species of coryphantha, echinomastus, and escobaria are at their northernmost ranges on this terrain. In the far south, in the area of Brownsville, there is another cluster of rare species. Cacti can also be found in the Davis Mountains/Fort Davis, Guadalupe Mountains, and Black Gap WMA in the Chihuahuan Desert.
Cacti from Arizona can you take them?
The state’s famous saguaros are protected, and it is illegal to take or kill them in Arizona. The recognizable cacti are protected by law and cannot be shot, vandalized, or taken out of parks where they can grow up to 60 feet tall and survive for 200 years. State agricultural police, or “cactus policemen,” go after violators.
Despite this, government contractors continue to destroy saguaros to build place for President Trump’s border wall.
Workers cleaning a dirt road next to new border fencing at the Organ Pipe Cactus National Monument, some 150 miles southwest of Tucson, close to the Lukeville border crossing, uprooted at least a half-dozen saguaros this month.
Saguaro ruins, some of which were taller than the 30-foot wall, were dumped nearby a hill that workers began detonating explosives this month in order to construct the wall. U.S. Customs and Border Protection has given Southwest Valley Constructors a $789 million contract to construct 38 miles of border barrier in the region.
Laiken Jordahl, a former worker at Organ Pipe Park who is now a campaigner with the Tucson-based Center for Biological Diversity, which has filed a lawsuit to block the wall, claimed that “they have quite obviously tried to disguise the body of this cactus.”
Jordahl documented the saguaro “carcasses” on camera and in images while he was at the building site last week. Outrage has been sparked by the footage he shared online. The cacti are sometimes described in human terms, such as “arms,” “ribs,” and “skeletons of saguaros that perished, obviously of natural causes,” for example.
It’s understandable why the Tohono O’odham tribe of Arizona thinks saguaros have ghosts.
Jordahl remarked, “They really do all have their unique characteristics. Several of them have been in this location longer than the boundary itself. Why do we believe we have the right to destroy something like that?
Arizona’s state flower is the saguaro blossom, and Tucson is home to a federal park dedicated to the saguaro. You require a state permit to transfer them, even on private property. On the largest reservation in Arizona, the Tohono O’odham, Saguaros are revered, and the harvest of their delicious red fruit marks the beginning of the tribal year. Saguaros can cost hundreds of dollars when they are mature, although nurseries only charge $100 per foot for them.
Officials from the Border Patrol claim that only a few sick and unsalvageable saguaros were destroyed by contractors. Some scientists disagree, stating that it is frequently equivalent to killing a huge cactus when it is transplanted.
According to Roy Villareal, the head of the Tucson sector of the Border Patrol, which includes Organ Pipe, over 90% of the cactuses in the area where the border wall is being built nearby have been “carefully transplanted.” He stated this on Twitter in an attempt to correct any “misinformation.”
The National Park Service and the organization have relocated 2,200 cactus from the region as of this week. According to Matthew Dyman, a Border Patrol spokesperson, “the agencies coordinated on a vegetation and plant relocation plan to minimize harm to protected and sensitive plants before wall construction started.
In the 60-foot federally controlled border zone known as the Roosevelt Reservation, where the wall and an adjacent access road are being built, he claimed that employees had mapped “cacti and other protected plants. According to him, workers were attempting to preserve agave, ocotillo, and a number of cacti, including the park’s eponymous Organ Pipe, fishhook, night-blooming cereus, senita, barrel, and hedgehog.
He claimed that less than 10% of the cacti in the area where Organ Pipe is building a boundary wall have already been eliminated, and healthy plants have been transported to other parts of the park.
Villeareal stated that the Border Patrol has “environmental and cultural monitors on site” in a tweet on Tuesday that included a video of the building site.
On February 18, it was unclear which saguaros at Organ Pipe had been designated for eradication. Two saguaroseaches that were over 30 feet tall and had an arm, indicating they were at least 95 years old, stood in the way of the access road’s expansion. There were no evidence of deterioration. Although the two saguaros were uprooted, cut, and thrown beneath other vegetation the following day, workers had enlarged the road.
The Border Patrol’s spokesperson, Dyman, declined to comment on the two cacti on Wednesday.
The cacti may soon face danger elsewhere. Workers from Tempe, Arizona-based Fisher Sand & Gravel Co. could be seen avoiding saguaros as they enlarged the major east-west dirt road, Devil’s Highway, in the Cabeza Prieta National Wildlife Refuge. A 31-mile border fence will be constructed in the area under a $268 million deal with Fisher.
According to Andrew Kornacki, a spokesman for the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, which is coordinating border wall construction with the Border Patrol, road widening is set to start soon. This includes a “relocation plan for saguaros and other cactuses.
An environmental monitor will confirm the quantity and location of plants to be moved by hand with a shovel and protective wrapping or by a specially equipped cradle truck after a licensed arborist has examined the health of the plants and their likelihood of successful transplantation in the area, he said. The health of the cactuses is then followed for a year.
Saguaro protectors are powerless to stop federal contractors from cutting them down. Although federal judges have permitted the Trump administration to waive environmental rules protecting even those species in the wall’s route, they are not endangered like other southern Arizona cacti, such as the Acua and hedgehog cactus. Environmental groups’ legal actions have so far been unsuccessful in stopping building.
Ned Norris Jr., chairman of the Tohono O’Odham, who has about 35,000 members, of whom nearly half live in the reservation, and Rep. Ral M. Grijalva, an Arizona Democrat who represents the Organ Pipe area, went to the park together last month. They begged the Border Patrol to halt building of the border wall and speak with local authorities about the environmental harm it was causing. Instead, construction workers used explosives this month to blast a passage for the wall through Monument Hill, a Native American burial ground, in addition to killing saguaros at Organ Pipe.
Anyone who has witnessed the devastation at Organ Pipe finds it absurd that the Border Patrol cares about the environmental effects of border wall construction, according to Grijalva, who chaired a hearing in Washington on Wednesday about the impact of border wall construction on indigenous communities. ” This damage has been facilitated at an alarming rate by lax laws in borderlands. The renowned saguaros of Southern Arizona will be irreparably damaged if building continues.
The saguaro has “strong cultural significance to his people as a traditional food source, and the harvest brings families together to commemorate the beginning of the O’odham new year,” according to a statement by Norris.
The wasteful killing of saguaros is another example of how the absurd border wall harms the environment, Norris said. ” All of this is taking place despite the fact that federal agencies have yet to engage in the substantive discussions with the country that are required by both federal law and executive order.
Saguaros can be difficult to move. According to Bill Peachy, a Tucson-based independent scientist who has studied and saved the cactuses for years, saguaros rely on a complex network of shallow roots that can extend nearly 20 feet and a deep, carrot-shaped tap root. These roots are difficult to reestablish, especially if they’re moved to a different type of soil, and they may rot if left untreated. Just as saguaros grow slowly, it might take years for them to perish, so problems are not always immediately obvious, he said.
Saguaros that had been transplanted had been “placed on a path where they won’t thrive,” Peachy claimed.
Saguaros can weigh more than 2 tons when fully hydrated, and those with arms need extra support. Saguaros should not be transplanted when the temperature falls below 60 degrees, as it did in Lukeville this month, according to the National Park Service.
According to Bill Holcombe, a member of the board of the Tucson Cactus and Succulent Society, which he claimed has saved 100,000 cactus over the course of 20 years, “the bigger it is, the harder it is.
The transplantation of cactus taller than 5 feet, according to Holcombe, requires specialized contractors and equipment.
“Hopefully they’ve got some responsible folks doing it when they’re digging it up along the border for the wall,” he remarked. ” They are hated when they are destroyed.