Is it illegal in Arizona to decorate a saguaro cactus on your own property?

The holiday season is upon us, and in Arizona it’s not out of the ordinary to see a cactus or two adorned with lights, sometimes even a Santa hat.

But is that illegal?

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The question comes from an Instagram post, our own actually. We posted a lovely photo of a decorated cactus in Carefree from our our Instagram friend @monika.montana.

Then the comments started rolling in from a particular gentleman saying the act of decorating a cactus in Arizona, even on private property, is illegal.

“Stop decorating saguaros,” he wrote. “They are a protected cactus under Arizona law. Even on private property, you really don’t own the cactus. This is a disgrace.”

It got so bad the Town of Carefree, although saying they appreciated the man’s concern, stepped in with their own response.

“The saguaros in our Carefree Desert Gardens are well cared for, and decorated carefully each year by trusted garden decorating professionals,” the town said.

So we set out to verify and brought the question to the Arizona Department of Agriculture.

The answer: Yes and no. It all depends on where said cactus stands.

Saguaros, like many other native Arizona plants, are protected by state law. So decorating them would most likely be considered a form vandalism.

However, Robert Smook, a spokesman for the department, said the “Town of Carefree can legally decorate saguaros on town property pursuant to state law.”

 “This is not considered vandalism,” he said.

Smook said you can decorate a saguaro or any other type of cactus as long as the plant is located on your own private property.

Key words being “your own private property.”

But if you decide to do it. Just be careful, like the Town of Carefree. Because the last thing you want to do is damage those beautiful Arizona cacti.


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