Our 16-year-old saguaro seemed to collapse this past Sunday. It had developed a kind of gouge several months ago and while we were concerned about it, we didn’t think it was serious. Well it was.
An arborist came out on Tuesday and exclaimed, “I’ve never seen anything like this in all my years doing this job!” Not exactly what one wants to hear. Diagnosis: bacterial necrosis. Seems this happens to saguaros quite often. Birds love the nutritious and water-packed flesh of the cactus and so bore holes which also make quite the nice and safe area to hang out in. These holes, however, open the way for a variety of insects, one of which carried a bacterial disease that kills the cactus.
The arborist said ours had been sick for many years as was evident by the way the space between the spines began to narrow about 10 feet up and continued to grow even narrower as the cactus grew.
So on Thursday, they began the hazardous task of bringing out 24-foot cactus down. I recorded some of the action and took lots of pictures which I will share below.
Today they finished the task. I had hoped at the very least that I could salvage the ribs since I have long wanted the ribs of a Saguaro bleached by the sun. But this would require letting the thing rot for 4-5 years along with the collection of maggots, flies and stench, so that wasn’t an option.
It seems silly I suppose, but I had become quite fond of this cactus watching it grow from a mere 4 ft when we had it planted to a 24 ft beauty before it became ill. The dogs have done a number on our landscape and saguaros are expensive, so I don’t know if we’ll replace it. For now there will be an empty place in our backyard and in my heart.