Saguaros Gone Wild

Everybody knows saguaro cactuses have arms. The classic cartoon version has two symmetrical ones; real ones typically sport up to a half-dozen or so. But occasionally, some kind of genetic defect causes a cactus to sprout arms like crazy! Here are a few especially odd ones that I have come across in my travels in the Arizona desert.


Desert Wells Multiuse Area, Arizona

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Thanks to Rick Scott for giving me directions to this giant; he counted at least 62 arms. Rick also estimated the height at 39 feet -- very tall but not a record-holder (see my mountain bike for scale).
Directions: Near Florence Junction, within the Desert Wells Multiuse Area; just off of Route # 26, approximately 1/4 mile southwest of the intersection of Routes # 1 and 2. GPS coordinates for the saguaro: 33d 15.282m, 111d 26.576m. Warning: The cactus is several miles away from the paved road; do not attempt to locate it unless you have a well-equipped, high-clearance four-wheel-drive vehicle, the Desert Wells Multiuse Area map, a State Trust Land permit (required), and good route-finding skills or a GPS unit.
Last Visited: October 2008.

Update March 2011:
I have been notified that this cactus is no longer standing; it collapsed sometime between March and October 2010. Thanks to Cordell H. for the tip.


Florence Junction, Arizona

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Directions: A couple hundred yards north of E. El Camino Viejo, north of Florence Junction.
Last Visited: July 2011.


Phoenix, Arizona

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Directions: In the front yard of a house in south Phoenix.
Last Visited: April 2011.


Hog Canyon, Arizona

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I didn't notice this cactus at the time I took the photo; I discovered it later while looking at the telephoto image of hundreds of saguaros on a distant hillside.
Directions: Hog Canyon is a rough off-trail hike in the Superstition Wilderness; the trailhead is one mile west of the Hieroglyphic Spring Trailhead. The hillside with the cactus is on the left as the wash enters the canyon.
Last Visited: December 2006.


Scottsdale, Arizona

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I'm not sure if this is a saguaro or a related variety of cactus, but its tightly-clustered multiple arms caught my eye as I was driving by.
Directions: In the front yard of a private residence.
Last Visited: July 2009.


Mesa, Arizona

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Likewise, I'm not sure if this is technically a saguaro, but it's sprouting countless ball-shaped arms.
Directions: Baseline Towers shopping center, 2602 W. Baseline Rd.
Last Visited: December 2009 (now gone).


Mesa, Arizona

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This is not a saguaro, but a cardón, a close relative of the saguaro that is native to Mexico.
Directions: In the front yard of a private residence.
Last Visited: April 2015.



Standard disclaimer: Sites are described for entertainment purposes only, as they were at the time of my last visit. I can not vouch for the current condition of the site or its accessibility.


Revised: April 18, 2015
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