I appreciate reading your magazine and do so every week. However, I feel compelled to draw attention to a major inaccuracy in your March 22 publication. Saguaro cactus are depicted in the graphics that go with the article about the Texas cancer researchers. Only in the Sonoran deserts of western Sonora, Mexico, and southern Arizona, along with a few stray specimens in California, do saguaro cactus flourish. Texas does not have saguaro cacti. Contrary to popular belief, the saguaro doesn’t just grow in the west. Because of the cactus’ particularity to Arizona, the saguaro cactus blossom has been designated as the state flower of the state. I believed it necessary to alert you to this error.
Saguaro cactus can survive in Texas?
One of the most pervasive misunderstandings about Texas seems to have no end. I am referring to the saguaro cactus. In connection to the Lone Star State, we frequently see pictures of this imposing, tree-like cactus on billboards, in cowboy art, on murals, in novels, in magazines, and on innumerable Tex-Mex menus. A cowboy galloping through a saguaro was shown in a recent Texas-based New Yorker short story. And now, Lawrence Wright, a staff writer for the New Yorker and a lifelong Texan, has released God Save Texas: A Journey into the Soul of the Lone Star State, a book that includes a map of the state that features—you guessed it—a saguaro in the midst of Big Bend. The saguaro is not a native to Texas, which is the one drawback. Only the Sonoran Desert, southern Arizona, and sections of California and Mexico are home to it natively. The Texanist should please step in and assist in ending this botanical myth.
A: The saguaro cactus, which is the biggest cactus in the entire United States and is pronounced “sah-wah-roh,” may grow to heights of more than 75 feet and can live for more than 200 years. It is undoubtedly an outstanding specimen of cactus. The Texanist recently visited the Scottsdale area for a golf excursion and had the opportunity to experience its enormous grandiosity firsthand. They are genuinely remarkable. However, he personally thought they were a little extravagant in their size and, to be honest, a little odd-looking as they stand there quietly. The Texanist will never forget the bizarre sight and rather unearthly sound of a poorly hooked tee shot piercing and being swallowed up by one of these green giants. Fore! In this situation, the United States Golf Association’s Rule 28, which deals with unplayable balls, is applicable, and you will, regrettably, lose a stroke.
Is it permitted to cultivate saguaro cacti?
A neighbor’s camera captures a developer tearing down saguaro cacti on a desert lot in Mesa. The site was being readied for construction of houses.
A dispute between neighbors and a home builder in the calm, gated Las Sendas enclave in Mesa, where dozens of multimillion-dollar homes sit alongside a regional park, created misunderstandings about the laws governing native plants in the city and the state.
After his submitted plans for a residential property were approved, a seasoned builder started building a bespoke home in December, which is when the argument began. The saguaros, barrel cactus, and ironwood trees that may be seen in the desert uplands area have not been touched for many years.
After seeing several saguaros on the land being destroyed, outraged neighbors complained to the city and delivered the Las Sendas Community Association a petition with signatures from 24 homes. Luigi Micela, the owner and builder, claimed that the saguaros were in a wash and that he was unable to save them.
According to the National Park Service, it is prohibited to remove any plant, including saguaros, from federally owned territory like Saguaro National Park. In Arizona, it is unlawful to remove or destroy saguaros from state, tribal, or private property without the landowner’s consent and a permit.
The preservation and protection of native plants on private property is also subject to extra regulations in several towns.
Does Texas have cacti?
The largest variety of cacti species can be found in Texas, which has over 100 different types. Many are better known by their less scientific names, such as blind pear, cow-tongue cactus, night-blooming cereus, Texas rainbow, tree cactus, early bloomer, and devil’s head, which they were given because their hard spines are harmful to the horses’ and cattle’s hooves. More names for many other species include strawberry cactus, pincushion, and jumping jack. In Texas, cacti are used as food, as landscaping, and in both public and private botanical collections. Prickly pear pads, or nopalitos, with their spines burned off, create a substantial fodder for cattle and form a minor mainstay in Tex-Mex cuisine. The tunas, or seed pods, are used in salads, wines, and jam. Other cacti are used to produce pharmaceuticals, confectionery, and food coloring. Cacti are helpful in gardens and as shrubs due to their climate adaptability and simplicity of cultivation; also, their distinctive forms and multicolored flowers, which range in shade from green and white to magenta and purple, draw a lot of collectors. The smallest cacti are called button cacti and are about the size of a dime. The largest cacti are called barrel or fishhook cacti and can weigh up to half a ton or more.
Ten genera are represented by the cactus in Texas:
Echinocereus genus. Echino-, which means “spiny,” alludes to this genus’ extremely prickly exterior, and cereus, which means “wax candle,” to the regal aspect of its erect members. Oval, conical, or cylindrical cacti, echinocerei always have ribbed stems. The blossoms are typically big and stunning, although others have tiny, unnoticeable greenish flowers. The fruits are always juicy, have thin skin, and are frequently edible. They also have spines, however as the fruits ripen, the spines get looser and can be easily brushed off. The Echinocerei thrive mostly in exposed areas on barren hills and slopes that receive the full force of the southwest sun.
Family Wilcoxia. This genus typically has five species, four of which are found in Mexico and one in South Texas. The cactus have thin stems that are hardly more than five-eighths of an inch in diameter. The spines are only a quarter inch length or less. The flower is diurnal, huge, and gorgeous. It has a bell- or funnel-shaped bloom. The ovary surface is woolly, scaly, and coated in spines that resemble bristles or hairs that stay on the fruits.
Peniocereus genus. The “thread cereus” cacti all have thin stems and a massive, meaty taproot from which stems that are initially ribbed but eventually circular grow. They all have nocturnal, fragrant flowers that are formed from within the spine areole, as well as very small stem spines and hard fruit spines.
Acanthocereus genus. The “acanthus candle” genus contains roughly a dozen species. These are erect, more or less shrubby plants that rely on other plants for support because they can’t bear their own weight for very long. Supported stems can reach heights of twenty feet. All stems range in diameter from one to four inches, and mature stems contain three to seven noticeable ribs. The ovary is typically spiky, and the flowers are big, white, and bloom at night. The semiarid coastal plains appear to be the greatest habitat for these tropical lowland cactus, which are never far from the coast. Compared to most cactus, they can withstand a lot more wetness, and when water is plentiful, they grow quite quickly. Although the roots may regenerate, a light frost will kill the tips of the stems, and a temperature of 32 F will kill the entire plant above the ground. The Acanthocerei live in peril in the coasts of South Texas and Florida in the United States.
Echinocactus species. The majority of the barrel cacti, or members of this genus, have numerous, sharp, hard spines. Some members of the genus are spineless, while others have more slender and flexible spines. The barrels come in various sizes, from large ones weighing several hundred pounds to little ones barely a few inches tall. There are eight to twenty vertical or spiraling ribs on the outside. There is no identifiable floral tube in the flowers, which are produced at or near the top of the plant. The ovary has scales and occasionally wool but no spines.
the Lophophora genus. The “crest-bearers,” or small, globose or depressed globose cactus, that make up this genus grow from rather large, carrot-shaped taproots. The stem is around three inches in diameter and is just two inches tall. Large clusters of stems can be solitary or branch out from the base. Surfaces are often glaucous and blue-green. After the early seedling stage, the plants are spineless. Flat and wide ribs are present. The blooms are small, bell-shaped, and come in a variety of colors. The areoles are small and spherical with long white to yellowish wool that frequently persists. The ovary and fruit of this genus are both completely bare, however the fruit is invariably meaty. They have ribbed stems. Instead of the axils, monomorphic areoles create the blooms at the tip of developing tubercles. This genus contains peyote.
Ariocarpus species. One species of this minor genus exists in Texas, and the others are found in Mexico. One or occasionally several low, flattened stems, measuring two inches in diameter to ten inches in width, make up the plant’s body. The larger species can grow to a height of five inches, whilst the lesser species may not extend over the ground’s surface. A sizable taproot that like a carrot is on top of the stem. Very distinct, typically imbricated but noncoalescent tubercles are divided up on the stem’s surface. After the initial seedling growth, there are no spines. The fact that this genus blooms in the fall makes it unique. Flowers are diurnal, wide-opening, white, yellowish, or purplish in color. Both the ovary and the fruit are bare. When the fruit reaches maturity, it turns dry and crumbles, leaving the seeds inside the plant’s center’s wool. The fruit is initially juicy.
Epithelantha species. There are several species of this genus that are found in Mexico, but only one of them is found in the United States. The entire stem is covered with countless, incredibly small tubercles, which are reportedly the smallest tubercles of any American cactus. There are many small spines that almost completely obscure these from view. The longer, converging points of the longer spines obscure the growing tip of the stem, which is a prominent depression filled with a lot of wool that resembles hair, making it difficult to see how the tubercles, areoles, and flowers develop. The fact that this cactus develops its flowers at the top of the tubercle rather than in the axil of the tubercle is another peculiar feature of it. Contrary to what was previously thought, this cactus does not create its flower inside a monomorphic spine areole. The meristem is split into a distinct, indeterminate floral or vegetative meristem and a determinate spiny part before the bloom is developed.
Mammillaria species. Small or extremely small creatures make up this genus. Different species’ stems can be depressed and nearly flat, globular, or even occasionally columnar, and are frequently referred to as heads. One of them occasionally becomes a significant cluster of heads, whereas in many other species they multiply from the base to become caespitose. In certain species, these stay singular. Occasionally, branches from higher up the stem may sprout in a few species. A system of tubercles, which resemble nipple-like projections, completely covers each stem. These are typically arranged in spiral rows, however occasionally they are not as tightly structured. The bases of the tubercles are occasionally more or less quadrangular, however they are often cylindrical or conical.
Opuntia species. The common consensus is that this enormous genus is more primitive than the others. Opuntias are the only cactus found in more than half of the states in the United States, supporting the assertion that cacti are present practically everywhere in the country. Jointed stems, cylindrical or conical leaves on young stems, glochidia (barbed hairs or spines), the production of spreading, rotated flowers with more or less sensitive stamens and with aeroles that frequently produce glochidia and spines on the ovaries, as well as the presence of these traits, are characteristics. The rinds of the fruits are thick.
Where can I grow a saguaro cactus?
Carnegiea gigantea, the saguaro cactus, is found only in the Sonoran Desert. They do not, however, grow everywhere in the Sonoran Desert. This map shows the range of the Saguaro cactus with a crosshatched representation of the Sonoran Desert (solid). Freezing conditions throughout the wintertime restrict the saguaro’s range.
Elevation also places restrictions on saguaros. They typically grow between sea level and an elevation of about 4,000 feet. Saguaros that reach heights of more than 4,000 feet are typically found on south-facing slopes where cold temperatures are less common or last less time.
Texas has large cacti, right?
If you’re a native Texan who has been to any northern section of the country and encountered a local who asked where you’re from, you’ve probably already encountered this inquiry: “So did you ride your horse to school?
I’m a native Texan who attended college for two years in Iowa. You have no idea how frequently people ask me questions like this! “Well, did you ride your tractor to school? “, I would ask. I was shocked to learn that Iowa actually had a “driving your tractor to school day.” Stereotypes are not all made equal.
The Saguaro Cactus
One of the MANY clichés we Texans encounter on a daily basis is that of transportation by horse. There is one Texas stereotype that I guarantee the majority of you reading this have never heard of or even knew existed! The saguaro cactus, that is.
Not Native but Still Here
But the saguaro cactus tale is more complicated than you might realize, and it may be the biggest botanical myth ever. It turns out that Texas is not the saguaro cactus’ native habitat. Professor Kendall Gerdes from Texas Tech University started the campaign to eradicate the use of this well-known stereotype by posing the question, “Why do Texans utilize saguaro cacti as a symbol of all things Texas when they don’t grow here?” to West Texas Wonders.
Only the Sonoran Desert in Southern Arizona, along with some areas of California and New Mexico, is home to the saguaro cactus. The saguaro, which is pronounced “sah-wah-roh,” is the biggest cactus in the country and has a lifespan of more than 200 years. It’s simple to see why this cactus has gained such notoriety and notoriety throughout the years, particularly when it comes to desert-like environments like West Texas.
Even little Texas towns like Dryden have planted and grown their own private supply of the famous Saguaro cactus! Therefore, even though it is not native to Texas, there are examples of it growing in our lovely state.
A New Prickly Hero Emerges
It might be time, nevertheless, for Texans to honor our actual native cactus companion, the prickly pear!
In addition to making a fantastic margarita flavor, prickly pears are also the most typical cactus in Texas. This cactus, which is sometimes referred to as the “original yellow rose of Texas, blooms lovely yellow flowers that are reminiscent of Spanish roses and eventually develop into tasty red fruit called “tuna.” The fruit and the pads are both edible. The prickly pear cactus was declared the state plant of Texas on May 25, 1995, yet it has yet to gain the respect and reputation it really deserves.
Perhaps it’s time to formally replace the saguaro as the iconic, recognizable cacti for the wonderful state of Texas with the prickly pear, just like we’ve done with the other notorious Texas clichés.
The prickly pear’s “…position as both a vegetable and a fruit make it singularly qualified to embody the tenacious and unique Texas character as an official state symbol,” according to our state senate, best explains it.