We told you previously about efforts to keep people from stealing cactus out of gardens. Now the National Park Service is getting into the act of microchipping plants. This is good, but won’t actually help find the plants, only track plants that are already found back to their original source.
Ross D. Franklin/Associated Press
TUCSON (AP) — Anyone swiping a saguaro cactus from the desert could soon be hauling off more than just a giant plant.
National Park Service officials plan to imbed microchips in saguaros, Arizona’s signature plant, to protect them from thieves who rip them from the desert to sell them to landscapers, nurseries and homeowners.
I wonder if you can microchip a tomato plant? The possibilities to track your produce as it travels could be quite entertaining.
Now it seems like Saguaro National Park is going to tag cacti to discourage theft. A timely opinion column in the Tucson Citizen tells the story.
These are tough times for the saguaro cactus. The Goliaths of the desert have been besieged in recent years by non-native plants. Invaders such as buffelgrass choke off young saguaros and increase the likelihood of a habitat-scorching wildfire.
Man, of course, also has proven to be a nemesis. Thieves, while rare, have made off with young cactuses, sometimes taking a dozen at a time.
Thankfully, technology offers a way to fight back.
Saguaro National Park plans to tag young cactuses with tiny microchips to help in investigations of missing cactuses and to make robbers think twice before striking.
Saguaros are a living symbol of the Southwest and lure visitors from around the world to our city. Keeping the cactuses alive and well should be a top priority, and we’re glad to see that Saguaro National Park has found a high-tech way to stick it to thieves.
I hope they don’t mind that I quoted it in full. It’s short, and relevant.
A city of limestone towers rises in western Madagascar…. Unexplored passages shelter some of the island’s—and the world’s—strangest species, from the ghostly Decken’s sifaka, a lemur, to a host of reptiles, insects, and plants….
Photograph by Stephen Alvarez
Spiny, drought-tolerant Pachypodium plants… thrive in… Tsingy de Bemaraha national park and reserve in western Madagascar.
Taken at the Painted Hills National Monument in Central Oregon near sunset. Having been here numerous times before in the summer months, seeing a rainbow on a 100-degree day was the last thing I expected … usually the skies are clear on hot days.
The <a href="https://cactusjungle.com/archives/blog/exit.php?url_id=1801&entry_id=1609" title="http://www.azcentral.com/arizonarepublic/arizonaliving/articles/0118quicktrip0118.html" onmouseover="window.status=’http://www.azcentral.com/arizonarepublic/arizonaliving/articles/0118quicktrip0118.html’;return true;" onmouseout="window.status=”;return true;">Arizona Republic visits</a> their local National Park, Saguaro National Park, and comes away the better for it.<br /><br /><div style="margin-left: 40px;"><span style="font-style: italic;">Even if you haven’t been to the western part of this park, you can imagine what it looks like. Massive stands of the namesake cactus are everywhere.<br />
But fewer people are familiar with the park’s Rincon Mountain District, 30 miles east of the more visited Tucson Mountain District.<br />
There are fewer saguaros in the eastern section, but it’s thick with other cactuses: cholla, prickly pear, barrel, hedgehog.</span><br /></div><br />There are some nice back roads too. It’s all so dense with so many different types of cactus you could just collapse from all the spiny goodness.<br /><br />
With the territory so vast and little chance of catching thieves in the act, land managers insert tiny chips into cactus bodies so they can track them down if stolen.
“We’ve literally chipped hundreds of saguaros we think are in at-risk areas — the size and location that could put them at a high risk of being poached,” said Paul Austin, chief ranger at Saguaro National Park, who said cactus poaching has declined since chipping began about five years ago.
Saguaros are Carnegiea gigantea of course. Named for the Robber Baron Carnegie, they are the only plant in the genus and no one has the courage to move it to another genus of plants to which they are closely related. Of course, most botanists would refer to Andrew Carnegie as a Philanthropist, which might be why they’ve kept the name.
From the bromeliads, ferns, and orchids that cover a kapok tree 160 feet above the forest floor to the jaguars that prowl below, Ecuador’s Yasuní National Park is home to countless plant and animal species.
Since we’re on about what to do in Texas this weekend, here’s another suggestion – a walk into Big Bend National Park. That’s about 10 hours away from Dallas. I know, since I had to hurry off when I was visiting the park a few years ago to pick up my sister at the airport in Dallas. We visited the Book Depository 6th floor museum, and then made our way to the birthplace of Elvis Presley in Tupelo, Mississippi.
This walk is much more of a hike than a walk, but it is one of the best in Texas. This 4.8-mile round-trip trek is not for those who are out of shape, but if you walk regularly, it should be no problem since much of the path consists of switchbacks. Just go at a pace that’s comfortable. The rewards are phenomenal. First, you have the walk itself, through thick forest and by cactus and ocotillo and agave. Second is the panoramic view at the top that will take your breath away — guaranteed — if the walk itself hasn’t already done that. It’s the most strenuous walk listed here, since it begins at about a mile high and ascends for an additional 2,000 feet. Getting to the top is part of the fun, since the trail takes you through two very different ecosystems as you gain elevation. At the end of the trail is the supreme reward, where you can relax on one of the rocks and gaze out over what seems to be the entire world below your feet. On a clear day you can see for more than 100 miles. If you get lucky, you might even spy an eagle soaring below. The trail also has a self-guided brochure available at the trailhead to identify all the plants and trees you will pass along the way.
Big Bend is one of my favorite parks, and I hope to make it back.
Although it’s not the largest saguaro ever discovered, the colossal specimen along the Dutchman’s Trail in the Superstition Wilderness is a commanding presence. Balancing a massive, Medusa-like crown of spiny arms and isolated in a landscape where neighboring saguaros sport more modest profiles, this impressive plant grabs the spotlight.
But, it might not stand for much longer. An ominous gray scale on its north side and what appears to be a lightning strike in its core may spell its doom…
And then there’s the whole location and hike and map and description information so you too can go and see this mountainous cactus before its gone.
The hike begins at the Peralta Trailhead on Bluff Spring Trail…
Earlier this year I was hiking at Navajo National Monument near Kayenta in the Four Corners area and found… an amazing Claret cup cactus flower.
That is a very nice picture indeed. Cactus are pretty…
Have you ever been to Navajo NM? It’s got amazing cliff dwellings. As are many of the extant cliff dwellings, it’s near the Four Corners part of the country, or so they tell me. No, wait, actually I’ve been there, so I can tell you this myself. Interesting name since there aren’t any corners there at all, unless you’re looking at a map.
Did You Know?
Hisatsinom is the Hopi name for their ancestors that lived in the Four Corners region of the Southwest.
Well, no I did not know this before today, but now I do.
That would be the Medicine Bow-Routte National Forests and Thunder Basin National Grassland.
Blue Columbine Holmes Miller/Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center
Viewers will be treated to a number of wildflowers such as Indian Paintbrush, Kitten Tails and Simpson’s Ball Cactus.
I wonder what Simpson’s Ball Cactus looks like? From the USDA Forest Service’s Coloring pages for kids, we find it looks something like this:
Click to enlarge, and then please print out and give to your local children so they can color the cactus, and then you’ll find out what color the flowers are. Or you can click through here to see a picture of one in bloom in Washington. I don’t know if the Washington and Wyoming populations look the same.