Southern Arizona’s symbolic and stately saguaro cacti do more than stand around looking good.

Saguaro over Tucson/Ryn Gargulinski

Saguaro over Tucson/Ryn Gargulinski

These massive plants are known for their revenge against anyone stupid enough to mess with them.

Two Tucson guys have been the latest victims in saguaro revenge when they tried to steal some of them from Saguaro National Park in January 2007.

Both dudes have finally been slapped with punishment from the federal government, according to a news release from the Arizona District’s Office of the United States Attorney.

Joseph Tillman, 50, was sentenced in October to eight months in federal prison.

His cohort, Gregory James McKee, 42, won’t join his fellow cactus-rustler in prison, but he received a sentence of six months of home confinement and 100 hours of community service.

Maybe his community service will be planting cactus.

Both get three years of supervised release following the completion of their time served.

The two took off with two saguaro form the Saguaro National Park in a truck driven by McKee and had dug up several others and prepared them for transport.

Revenge of the cactus/Ryn Gargulinski

Revenge of the cactus/Ryn Gargulinski

Gee, National Park Service Rangers just so happened to notice.

“Both McKee and Tillman pleaded guilty to violations of the Lacey Act, which prohibits trafficking in plants and animals collected in violation of any law, treaty, or regulation of the United States or in violation of any Indian tribal law,” the release said.

“Saguaros are protected under Arizona’s native plant law and require protection from illegal collection because of their vulnerability to loss or damage from theft, vandalism, development, off-road vehicles, and air pollution and because of their slow reproduction and rate of growth, which have made nursery propagation difficult.”

While Tillman’s and McKee’s antics may lack some general intelligence, nothing can beat the infamous tale of the guy who pulled an even smarter move.

David Grundman and his roommate James Joseph Suchcochi packed their guns and took off for the desert near Lake Pleasant back in 1982. Snopes.com tells us Grundman had great success shooting up a small saguaro, which quickly thumped down dead.

So he went for a bigger one. A 26-foot saguaro that was estimated at 100 years old.

The cactus was apparently not amused by being shot up – and one of its 4-foot arms tumbled down, crushing and killing Grundman.

What a way to make history.

While Snopes also mentions tales of animal revenge, the site says Grundman’s is the only documented case of a plant getting back at a human.

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What do you think?

Have you been injured by a saguaro or other desert plant?

Do you recall the guy who died Sept. 1 while trimming a palm tree?

Do you know any tales of plant or animal revenge?

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