Why Is The Saguaro Cactus Protected

Arizona is home to more than 3,000 different types of ferns and flowering plants, many of which are legally protected. Cacti and other uncommon and culturally significant plant species are covered by the Arizona Native Plant Law. Desert plants are shielded by the law from theft, vandalism, and “On any lands, there should be no needless removal or destruction.

The Arizona Native Plant Law covers four categories of protected plants, including “Highly Protected species These species of plants, including saguaro cacti (Carnegiea gigantea), are endangered or in risk of going extinct. The cactus and its fruits, seeds, and cuttings are all protected by the Arizona Native Plant Law.

Since when is the saguaro protected?

The region was designated as a national monument more than 61 years before Saguaro National Park was established. On March 1, 1933, Herbert Hoover gave his approval for this classification in an effort to safeguard the saguaro cactus, a representation of the Southwest and the Sonoran Desert. With this choice, a national monument was created for the first time to safeguard a particular species. President Law Clinton formally signed a bill designating Saguaro as the 52nd national park after years of environmental diversification and expansion. The park turns 18 years old this coming Sunday, October 14.

Since 1933, Saguaro’s vegetation, landscape, and animals have undergone numerous changes. Saguaro National Monument was initially situated in the Rincon Mountain District. Since then, the region has grown by 3,500 acres, a wilderness area, and a second mountain district. The park now consists of two large areas that are separated by roughly 40 miles. For guests and the species that call Saguaro home, the western Tucson Mountain District and the eastern Rincon Mountain District each offer a distinctive environment.

Although both areas are home to the famous saguaro cactus, they have different landscapes and ecological compositions. Tucson, the more recent district, has an elevation range of roughly 2,200 feet to almost 4,700 feet and has two distinct desert ecosystems: desert grassland and desert scrub. Among the typical species in this area are coyotes, quail, and the desert tortoise. The Rincon Mountains, in contrast, have peaks that are nearly 8,700 feet higher than those in Tucson and have six distinct ecosystems, from Sonoran Desert scrub to mixed conifer forests at higher altitudes. There are a wide variety of creatures present, including black bears, Arizona mountain king snakes, and white-tailed deer, because to the elevation and different biotic ecosystems.

Due to the emergence of wildflowers, birds, and other desert life in the spring, this is a busy season for tourists. May and June are when the saguaro cactus flower blooms, which has served as Arizona’s official flower since 1931. Visitors should make use of the numerous hikes, drives, and tours that Saguaro has to offer. Bajada Loop Drive is one of the many beautiful roads in the Tucson District. Bajada, a six-mile route across the western Saguaro region, passes through extensive cactus clumps and directs visitors to short climbs and easy picnic spots. Cactus Forest Drive, an eight-mile road around the Rincon Mountain District clockwise, is accessible to those seeking wildlife and nature walks if they head east.

P.S. Surprisingly, neither of the two co-champion saguaro cactus in the country are in the park itself, but they are close by. They are where? To learn more, visit our Big Tree section.

Is it prohibited to remove a saguaro cactus that is dead?

Before visiting any land to remove natural resources, be sure you have written permission in your possession. Once more, the Arizona native plant statute does not provide protection for cactus skeletons or any other dead plant or plant parts.

Saguaros are they protected?

The long-lived saguaro cactus is primarily impacted by long-term drought and frost cycles in the climate. Saguaros are not vulnerable to blights, despite common belief that they have a “disease” that dates back over fifty years. The saguaro is a typical Sonoran Desert plant and is not a threatened species.

Without a doubt, the saguaro is most at risk from the fast growing human population. There has been a significant loss of saguaro habitat as a result of the construction of new homes in the Tucson area.

Another threat to the exotic saguaro plants has emerged as a result of this population increase. For the limited supply of water and nutrients, exotic plants nearly invariably outcompete native plants. Buffelgrass, fountain grass, and red brome are three examples of exotic species that have contributed to an increase in desert wildfires, which have harmed or killed native vegetation, including saguaro cacti.

Because they were not frequently affected by fires in the past, saguaro and other cactus are not adapted to a fire regime. The natural desert grasses were scant and did not carry a fire very far before exotic grasses were introduced for landscaping and as fodder for livestock. So a lightning strike would have only ignited a small portion of the fire before it ran out of fuel.

Vandalism, cactus stealing, and attempted transplants are a few more dangers facing the saguaro. The removal of any plant from national park lands is prohibited, and the saguaro is just one of several Arizonan species that are protected under the Native Plant Protection Act. Additionally, whether federal, state, tribal, or private, all of the land in the state is held by someone.

The Arizona Department of Agriculture must issue a permit and the landowner must give consent before removing native plants from any property. By getting the necessary authorization from the Arizona Department of Agriculture, homeowners who wish to relocate a saguaro (or any other native plant that is protected) on their own property may also do so. [There is no connection to the National Park Service.]

Why is cutting down saguaro cacti prohibited in Arizona?

This restriction is still in effect because the saguaro cactus, which is common in Arizona, grows slowly. If they aren’t cut down and are given the proper conditions, these plants have an estimated lifespan of 150 to 200 years. As a result, they might still be diminutive at age ten, standing no more than two inches tall.

The state punishes people who chop them down harshly as a result. It might take several generations for them to be able to grow again if they were hastily harvested. A human’s actions will always be remembered for the harm they caused. Trees can be transplanted, and some of them can regrow rather quickly, but the saguaro cactus cannot.

How much is a saguaro cactus 20 feet tall worth?

Southwest Arizona, western Sonora, Mexico, and even a few locations in southeast California are home to saguaro cacti. They are typically found in the northern regions on slopes that face south, where the sun shines more frequently. The Saguaro Cactus is covered in protecting needles and bears a red fruit in the summer as well as tiny white blooms in the late spring.

Only in the Sonoran Desert does the suguaro cactus, also known as Carnegiea Gigantea, flourish.

A Saguaro will only grow about one to one and a half inches in its first eight years.

Moving a saguaro cactus off of private or public land without a permit is against the law in Arizona.

Saguaro cactus roots spread out like an accordion to take in as much water as they can.

Arizona’s state flower is the saguaro bloom, which blooms only after a saguaro has reached the age of 35.


The saguaro is a unique species of plant that can get rather big yet develops extremely slowly. The saguaro’s weight and height are often astounding, and the plant’s beauty is emblematic and significant to the magnificent state of Arizona.

  • Arizona has rules and limitations on the gathering, harvesting, and disposal of these cactus. To learn more about the rules that apply to your region, get in touch with your neighborhood government.
  • The Saguaro can survive for 150 to 200 years in the appropriate growing circumstances.
  • The cactus has one major root that extends down approximately 2 feet while the remaining roots all extend out till they reach the height of the plant and only go down about 5 inches.
  • Saguaro growth is particularly slow. A saguaro may only be 1.5 inches tall after a whole decade of growth. They can potentially grow to a height of 40–60 feet under the right circumstances! After a rainy season, a completely hydrated Saguaro may weigh between 3,200 and 4,800 pounds.
  • Arizona legislation allows for the collection of saguaro “ribs,” which are used to create jewelry, furniture, roofs, fences, picture frames, and other things. Even the Native Americans used the ribs as water containers before the canteen was created.


According to DFRanchandGardens, the average price of a saguaro cactus in the US for 2020 is between $20 and $2,000 per foot.

The saguaro will cost less the smaller it is, according to osieOnTheHouse. However, if they are merely spears and in good condition, they typically sell for $100 or more per foot. The price of saguaros with arms is higher.

What are the prices of saguaro skeletons?

When the enormous cactus that some yahoo was shooting at fell over and crushed him to death back in the 1980s, do you remember that incident? We do, and we would have been the first to give the cactus a prickly high-five had it lived.

We don’t know what happened to that cactus, but we hope the people at Spur Cross Gallery gave it a warm place to live. The owners of the gallery have been salvaging downed saguaros and turning them into stunning works of art for more than 17 years. (Never attempt this yourself! Without a permit, it is against the law to remove saguaros from the desert, alive or dead, and no licenses have been issued since 1991.)

The grandeur of these formerly green giants, now reduced to skeletal forms of wood bleached gray, white, and yellow, cannot help but move people. They soar from the Gallery’s apex, lounge against its walls and ceiling, and adorn its chilly interior.

Some are constructed into wall sconces and are small and smooth. Some are medium in size and have been hollowed out so that a light bulb may be installed inside. The oldest and largest are unaltered; their long arms still reach for the sky, and their withered bases like melted candles.

Such beauty is expensive. Spend $200 on smaller specimens and up to $8,000 on the 20-foot largest cactus in the gallery. (We’ll hold off on any “sticker price” jokes out of respect for botanical propriety.)

A saguaro in my yard may I sell?

Every year, hundreds of Arizonans write or contact Rosie Romero’s radio show with queries ranging from how to avoid chimney fires to how to get rid of tree roots that have infiltrated their sewer system. Wherever someone resides in Arizona, he wants to offer solutions that fit their particular lifestyle. Here are some maintenance and improvement-related queries from the Tucson area.

I have a 15–20 foot tall saguaro in my yard, and I’m wondering if I should relocate it or sell it. Is that even a possibility?

The answer is yes, but as saguaros are native plants that are protected, you cannot sell one without first receiving a permission from the Arizona Department of Agriculture. Any native plant that has been taken from its habitat and is protected by law requires a permission to be in possession of it. The permit costs $7, with an additional $8 for a saguaro tag. You can get in touch with the Tucson department office. Some nurseries will purchase the plant from you, obtain the necessary permits, and handle the relocation.

Picking up saguaro skeletons is it permitted?

An image of a Teddy Bear Cholla section in the process of decomposing is shown above. The skeletal remains of the woody cactus are beginning to emerge.

Skeletons of chollas have been known to be utilized as walking sticks. Cholla skeletons are frequently used by artists to create Southwestern-style works of art. See the 14 adorable cactus presents for cactus fans.

Saguaro and cholla bones cannot be removed from the desert without the owner’s permission. There are some plant nurseries that specialize in cacti where specimens can occasionally be acquired. Discover more about cacti’s lovely blossoms.

So follow my lead. Take lots of pictures and enjoy the cactus skeletons in the desert.

In Arizona, is it possible to go to jail for cutting down a cactus?

Several Arizona cacti are being illegally removed and sold abroad. Some businesses are going to extreme lengths to protect their plants.

In Phoenix Many of the cacti being illegally dug up and sold around the world, with many plants ending up in Europe or Asia, are found in Arizona.

According to Javier Gurrola, a member of the Central Arizona Cactus and Succulent Society, there appears to be a rise in the sale of uncommon cacti, particularly overseas, where there is a sizable market.

Since many of these delicate plants are native to the Americas, thieves have been stealing them and selling them abroad. However, local and state authorities claim they have recently noticed an upsurge in the number of individuals entering Arizona to forcibly harvest and trade natural cacti.

Since 2017, the agriculture specialists at U.S. Customs and Border Protection have already stopped more than 100 shipments of illicit cacti, and those are just the ones they’ve found.

Cutting down a cactus, such as Arizona’s famous Saguaro, is a crime that carries a heavy fine and a possible sentence of up to 25 years in jail. Despite being on private land, a saguaro cannot be cut down without a permit.

According to O’Neil, “it would be up to the U.S. Attorney’s Office, but the ability to charge anyone is based on the worth of the thing that they remove. The value of saguaro cactus is enough that it might be a crime if somebody were to take a saguaro cactus from the park.

These unusual cacti can fetch hundreds of dollars when sold. Although they are exceedingly difficult to obtain and grow, prickly plants have grown to be particularly popular among millennials and are a fan favorite on Instagram. Because of this, the demand for cacti that have already been grown has increased recently.

In the United States, total sales increased by 64 percent between 2012 and 2017, according to the Garden Center’s State of the Industry report; this industry is now thought to be worth thousands of dollars.

90 000 acres of Saguaro National Park are covered in between 1 and 2 million cacti. According to O’Neil, there have been several thefts over the years, which have negatively impacted Arizona’s iconic plant.

“The entire initiative began ten years ago when we had some individuals who stole seven cacti, loaded them into a trailer, and abandoned them in a park pullout. We were lucky that park officers spotted the cactus on the trailer, were able to locate the holes where they came from, staked out the trailer, and managed to apprehend whoever had taken the cactus, according to O’Neil.

Park rangers began inserting microscopic tagging devices into some of the most fragile cacti ten years ago. Comparable to microchipping a dog, it is known as pit tagging. However, thefts continue to occur. They claim that cacti near roadways are the most vulnerable.

“We don’t believe it’s happening on a daily or weekly basis, but we do believe that on a regular basis individuals are trying to take cacti out of the park,” said O’Neil. This initiative is a means to deter that.

The rarest and most expensive cacti are the smaller varieties; thieves aren’t just interested in the huge ones.

According to Michael Chamberland, associate agent for urban horticulture at the University of Arizona Maricopa County Cooperative Extension, “When a plant is already threatened and limited, then they can go away and be stripped from the original habitat.

It all comes down to supply and demand. Gurrola stated that prices can range from $20 to $200.

Gurrola responded, “Yeah, eBay, Craigslist, you know, in the back of a pickup, in a parking lot.