The Flora of Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum

In 1952, desert afficionados William Carr and Arthur Pack began this center for the extensive study of the Sonoran Desert and its surrounding geological areas.  It was named for both Arizona and the neighbouring Mexican state of Sonora, to lend credence to the view of the desert as a biological zone which transcends national and state boundaries.  This was one of the first international biological preservation efforts.

I was delighted to be able to visit this beautiful site, 12 miles west of Tucson, on the afternoon of May 5.  Here are several scenes of its botanical and zoological treasures.  In this post, the plant life takes center stage.                         

Cacti and succulents, including spurge, are brought here from around the world, just as they are at Phoenix’s Desert Botanical Garden.  The spurge species below are from Ecuador and from Madagascar.


Flora in the Sonoran Desert can be lush,

or sparse.

A single plant may resemble a colony.

A colony may look like a single plant.

A garden may be in its first stages,

just as a nearby plot is in full bloom.

Some gardens fulfill an ecological role.


Others are more spiritual in purpose.


The Labyrinth Garden, above, is arranged to allow the visitor to experience it, while walking in meditation.  The three plots shown immediately above it are intended to attract hummingbirds, butterflies and bees.

As plants set the stage for animal life, so the next post will give a few glimpses of Arizona-Sonora’s fauna.


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