While in Phoenix, Arizona, I had time and bought and restored a table made from Saguaro and Cholla cactus. I inlay-ed some turquoise which led me to using abalone. Nick Fetzner, a nurse friend took me to a turquoise mine above Horseshoe Reservoir, Arizona and we actually mined our own turquoise. Definitely a check off the bucket list. Crashing my mountain bike is now off the list too. These turquoise in-lay projects were a fork in the road I took that got me into abalone in-lay.
Collecting Saguaro and Cholla cactus is an interesting process. After buying the cactus table in Scottsdale, I need cactus material to repair the table. I'm guessing the original table was 25 to 30 years old and it sat outside on someones porch. The weathering of this piece is gorgeous.
I know the Saguaro cactus is protected in Arizona on Federal and State lands. On Arizona Bureau of Land Management lands used to have a paragraph that stated saguaro can be taken by the armful each year. It is a natural habitat for lots of wild life so wearing long sleeves, good gloves and eye pro is a must.
When I found some to harvest I would fit it into the back of my truck bed with a shell on it. When I get home I would through a few bug bombs into the back and let it set overnight. There can be spiders, termites, scorpions and more. 90% of the saguaro and cholla pieces end
With the right growing conditions, it is estimated that saguaros can live to be as much as 150-200 years old.
Saguaro are very slow growing cactus. A 10 year old plant might only be 1.5 inches tall. Saguaro can grow to be between 40-60 feet tall (12-18m). When rain is plentiful and the saguaro is fully hydrated it can weigh between 3200-4800 pounds.
cactus skeletons (or any dead plant or plant parts) are not protected under the Arizona native plant law.