UA Partners to Preserve Heritage

Cristate or “crested” saguaro form when the cells in the growing tip begin to divide outward, rather than in the normal dome-shaped pattern. As a result, over time, the cactus begins to develop a broad fan-shaped crest at its apex instead of the regular vertical arm pattern. Scientists aren’t sure exactly whether this mutation is the result of genetics or an external trigger like a mite, insect or weather. Some suspect that frost could induce formation of the crested shape. Regardless of the cause, the rarity of crested saguaros make them a treat for all desert-dwellers that come across one.


The University of Arizona main campus was home to a crested saguaro for many decades. It was considered an iconic feature of the landscape where it stood resolutely on the grounds near Old Main (shown at left, ca. 2008). However, due to decline inherent to a crested specimen of this age, it was lost shortly after a particularly harsh frost and subsequent micro-burst a few years ago. 







In an effort to preserve the heritage embodied by this landscape icon, the University of Arizona Campus Arboretum partnered with the Facilities Management and Planning, Design & Construction units to find, salvage and install a new specimen outside Old Main in Fall 2015 (shown below with the commemorative plaque installed at the base). This installation was a significant logistical and financial undertaking and conveys well the way in which university organizational structure effectively supports inter-departmental collaboration, effectively connecting academic and operational unit and building cultural bridges to the community.  



















Special thanks to The Office of Business Affairs which oversees both University of Arizona Facilities Management and Campus Planning, Design and Construction units. Specifically, we express thanks to Mr. Chris Kopach, Assistant Vice President of UA Facilities Management and Mr. Peter Dourlein, Assistant Vice President of UA Campus Planning, Design and Construction who generously approved funding for the project in partnership with Campus Arboretum donors.  The arboretum also extends enthusiastic gratitude for the ongoing logistical support for installations like this to Mr. Matt Anderson, Superintendent of Grounds and Mr. Woodford Remencus, Grounds Crew Chief, and to Mr. Mark Novak, UA Landscape Architect who worked jointly to coordinate the project. Further thanks to Juan J. Barba & Associates Consulting Arborists for assistance locating such a remarkable specimen, worthy of its place in UA landscape history!


Thursday, October 1, 2015 - 08:00 to 14:00