The saguaro cactus is found only in the Sonoran Desert of southern Arizona and northern Mexico. It is an integral part of the desert environment and plays a central role in the cultural heritage of the Tohono O'odham, who live near Tucson. Most of our saguaros are located in the southwestern area of the Park because it is most suitable to their growth.
The quarter-mile loop trail is dedicated in memory of Bud and Bev Pochter (TCP Docent Class of 1990) by Carol Pochter, Sally Pochter Stilwill, their families and friends.
The Trail leads off from the furthest point west on the South Loop Trail into a previously undeveloped portion of the Park grounds. Along its length you will encounter bridges over natural washes, benches and 11 interpretive signs that tell the story of the saguaro from both a cultural and a natural history perspective.
One of Tohono Chul Park’s major objectives is to illustrate for visitors the interconnectedness between the plants and people of the Sonoran Desert. In no other instance is this connection more evident than in that between the saguaro cactus (ha:sañ) and the Tohono O’odham people. Our intent, backed up by valuable input from a visitor survey conducted in 2003, was to convey the story of the cactus both through its cultural connections to the Tohono O’odham and through its botanical connections to the natural history of the Sonoran Desert. One of the "signature" plants of the Sonoran Desert, the saguaro has served as an icon of the Southwest since botanist George Engelmann described it in 1848. Yet many myths and misconceptions persist about its longevity, its appearance and its uses. Original watercolors by Tohono O’odham artist Michael Chiago depict the origin story of the saguaro, traditional harvesting and preparation methods, and the post-harvest wine ceremonies leading to the beginning of the summer monsoons. (Funding for the Chiago illustrations was provided by the Tucson/Pima Arts Council.) Together with the photographic work of several local artists, this permanent signage offers a cultural view of the saguaro from the perspective of the original desert people, as well as a naturalist’s answers to many of the most frequently asked questions.
Our thanks to Park docents Nina Allen and Jack Quillen for their extensive background research, and to our design team of Jackie Stein and Kathleen Ryan, who helped us to bring this vision to fruition.
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