WHOEVER PLANTED the 18-foot saguaro cactus in front of the Sierra Grande Lodge, in Truth or Consequences, must have been a dreamer. The saguaro serves as an object lesson in beating the odds—fittingly, given the 1928 compound’s former life as a gambling mecca. The saguaro, or Carnegiea gigantea, is known to grow only in the Sonoran Desert of Arizona and Mexico, its range strictly bound by freezing temps. How is this transplant thriving in the Land of Enchantment? Former Sierra Grande owner Serge Raoul only knows it was at the lodge in 1991, when he bought the place. A housekeeper says it has grown extravagantly since she started in 2001. An arm sprouted four years ago, reports manager June Strange. “They can make it in T or C for many years if in a protected area,” says Steven Brack, of the Cactus and Succulent Society of New Mexico. The phalanx of prickly pear cacti guarding Señor Saguaro is doing heroic work, it seems. But Raoul’s reasoning is more fun. A woman from El Paso once traveled to T or C to warn him never to sell the Sierra Grande. “It’s an entrance to another dimension,” she said.
See it Yourself
The cactus is at the entrance to the Sierra Grande Lodge, 501 McAdoo St., in Truth or Consequences.