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The giant saguaro cactus is a universal symbol of the American west. These plants are native to only a small region of southern Arizona, the adjoining Mexican State of Sonora and extreme southeastern California, yet their tall, columnar shape is familiar to any desert traveller.

The saguaro cactus is composed of a tall, thick, fluted, columnar stem about two feet in diameter with several large arms that curve upward in the most distinctive conformation of all Southwestern cacti. But sometimes they produce a fan-shaped form of uncontrolled growth at the tip. These odd growths are referred to as cresting (or cristate), and are very rare occurrences. It is estimated that this condition affects approximately one out of every 200,000 saguaros. Originally, less than 200 of these abnormalities were thought to be in existence. However, more than 2,000 have been discovered so far, and biologists believe that there may be many more.

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A crested saguaro Photo credit

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