Man and Cactus
1998 Personal Account
I've had an experience myself with the instability of one Saguaro cactus. Years ago in northern Mexico, we were drinking beer in the desert and entertaining ourselves by exploding very crude locally made fire-works. They were large triangles of multi-layered newspapers filled with some kind of explosive, with a fuse emanating from
one corner. The explosions were satisfyingly loud. One of us threw one of these explosive devices and it happened to land at the base of a Saguaro, where it promptly exploded. This particular cactus, which was well over 12 feet tall, just fell over. Fortunately, none of us were in its path.
Rebuttal from C. Douglas:
Desert cacti have have extensive root systems which not only collect and store every precious drop of water, but also anchor them strongly to the ground. Ordinary tree roots mass about the same as the tree above ground. Cacti roots are far more extensive. In addition, the ground in this particular desert is hard clay, not sandy. The hard clay and extensive roots anchors the cactus upright for its entire life, and for many years after it dies. You would need a stick of dynamite to knock it down, not just a firework. I could only believe this story if the saguaro had been a dead and decaying cactus.