A giant shrugs off vandalism, poaching, tales of its demise

The Sonoran Desert's mighty saguaro cactus is the living embodiment of the Southwest, a 'charismatic megaplant' that people care about

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The saguaro cactus, the very symbol of the Southwest, is doing just fine despite persistent rumors that it is endangered. As befits a giant, this charismatic plant grows slowly: a 6-inch plant is at least 12 years old, an 18-incher more than 20. Saguaros first flower around age 50 but do not grow their first arms until 75. Despite lethal cold snaps, fires and poachers, the species should be around for many generations to come.

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