Pima County, Arizona – The Tucson Cactus and Succulent Society is creating a park full of prickly pear, cholla and other desert plants at the Pima County Natural Resources, Parks and Recreation Department’s headquarters.
The view of Prickly Park from the Natural Resources, Parks and Recreation Department
A cactus park in the desert may sound redundant but the society, in partnership with Pima County, wants residents and visitors to better understand and appreciate the rich diversity of these desert plants and their value to humans, animals, insects and the environment.
The society wants to make the 9.4-acre Prickly Park at 3500 W. River Road the largest and most complete collection of prickly pear and cholla in the United States.
The nonprofit society, which started in 1960, has more than 1,000 members. Since 1999, its Cactus Rescue Crew has been saving cacti and other native plants on sites slated for development. In more than 250 rescue outings, more than 50,000 native plants have been saved and given new homes across Arizona.
The society will sell more than 450 rescued barrel, hedgehog and saguaro cacti at its annual Blooming Barrel Sale from 7:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. Sunday, Aug. 14, at the Amphitheater Schools El Hogar Land Lab, 4342 N. Fourth Ave.
The society plans to populate the park with rescued native plants and cuttings and organize them into a variety of gardens demonstrating their value as food, their pollination and their blooms, and for research, conservation and propagation (Prickly Park map). It also plans to use the park to expand its educational offerings to teachers, students and the general public.
“This project provides native plant salvage, propagation and research opportunities, a public demonstration garden showcasing desert vegetation, and wisely reclaims and adaptively uses a former sand and gravel quarry in the development of a community asset,” said Rafael Payan, director of the Pima County Natural Resources, Parks and Recreation Department.
The larger of two ramadas at Prickly Park with the Natural Resources, Parks and Recreations Department in the background
The Rescue Crew will move saguaros salvaged from county road construction sites to the park. Pima County has already moved two ramadas from a former park to the Prickly Park site, and the society provided colored concrete slabs, new roofs and fresh coats of paint. The county also recently planted 50 velvet mesquite and blue palo verde trees at the park that were grown using “tall pot” technology at the county’s Native Plant Nursery.
For more information about the society, go to www.tucsoncactus.org.
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Gravel paths connect the two ramadas at Prickly Park.
Source: Pima County Communications OfficeSlide 2 of 3.
The smaller ramada with the Natural Resources, Parks and Recreation Department in the background
Source: Pima County Communications OfficeSlide 3 of 3.
Gravel paths through Prickly Park
Source: Pima County Communications Office