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TUCSON, Ariz. — Experts say the prolonged drought in southern Arizona is affecting some cacti and desert trees, which are withering from lack of moisture.

The curator of botany at the Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum says native plants are definitely seeing the effects of the 0.68 of an inch of rain the Tucson area has had this year.

George Montgomery tells the Arizona Daily Star that cholla cacti, saguaros, palo verde trees all have been affected.

He says cholla species are showing drought damage, saguaros are flowering earlier than normal and palo verde trees are showing twig death.

But Montgomery says many cacti have a smooth, almost waxy surface that helps them retain moisture.

Palo verde trees, chollas and other desert-dwelling species can lose twigs, branches or arms while remaining alive.

Copyright 2012 The Associated Press.

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