The Southwest’s Famous Cacti Are in Trouble

The Southwest's Famous Cacti Are in Trouble


A saguaro in the Sonoran desert near Apache Junction, AZ.

A saguaro in the Sonoran desert near Apache Junction, AZ.
Photo: Mario Tama (Getty Images)

One of the Southwest’s most familiar plants may be in deep trouble. The towering, multi-armed saguaro cactus, which is found only in the Sonoran Desert in Arizona, California, and parts of Mexico, has faced increasing instability as climate change alters its natural habitat through droughts and wildfires. The cacti can live well over a century and are culturally important to the tribal nations native to the Sonoran, as well as crucial to the larger ecosystem of the desert.

“We’re trying to understand how changes in temperature and precipitation in the future might affect the reproductive potential of saguaros, everything from how old they are when they start reproducing to how many flowers do they produce,” Don Swann, a biologist at Saguaro National Park, told PBS.



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