Long-term Saguaro Monitoring

Saguaro National Park was established in 1933 to protect the famous stand of “giant” saguaros at the base of the Rincon Mountains east of Tucson. From the beginning, people were concerned that this stand was dying out. Monitoring of saguaros at the park began in 1942 and, thanks to dedicated researchers, has continued every year since. This research indicates that the old giants are continuing to die. However, new saguaros began to appear in large numbers in the early 1970s. The saguaro forest is slowly being replaced by these slow-growing youngsters.

The last census that took place in 2000 revealed that there has been an increase in Saguaro recruitment from the previous census in 1990.

TMD (Saguaro West)



798, 245


RMD (Saguaro East)



Turner and Funicelli, 2001

1935 above and 1998 below.
Saguaro Forest at Saguaro National Park East, 1935 above and 1998 below.

By Ray Turner

From 1935 to today, the health and composition of the saguaro forest has changed significantly. The photographs below depict this dramatic transformation. Even though many old, tall saguaros were lost from 1935 to 1998, today we see more young saguaros sprouting up from under nurse trees.

Last updated: September 14, 2015

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