Join us for this year’s Arizona Botany Meeting! This virtual event will take place November 8-10th from 7:00 to 9:00 PM each evening via Zoom. The theme is Arizona Native Plants to the Extreme: Exploring the Botanical Diversity, Ecology, Adaptability, and Resilience of Arizona’s Native Flora in an Era of Environmental Change.
Through at least Fall 2021, all Chapter activities will continue to take place virtually via Zoom. Our virtual events will be announced at least 2 weeks in advance to our email list subscribers. To join our email list, please contact email@example.com.
Our events are open to Chapter members as well as the general public, unless stated otherwise. If you’re interested in becoming a Chapter member, please view the Membership page. Yearly membership is just $30 for individuals, $15 for students, and $35 for families.
October EcoQuest: Gander at Grasses
The Phoenix Chapter is collaborating with the Metro Phoenix EcoFlora on their newest EcoQuest. During the month of October, use iNaturalist to observe and identify:
If you find fountain grass, follow through with one of the suggested calls to action to help prevent the spread of this noxious weed! And if you don’t find any native grasses in your outdoor space, consider planting some. See the project’s journal page for full details about the EcoQuest.
Follow the AZNPS Phoenix Chapter’s Facebook page for more information about local native plants news, research, and events!
We also invite you to follow our Chapter on Instagram and use the hashtag #aznativeplants to help us raise awareness of Arizona’s amazing native plants!
Seeking native plants to use in landscaping?
Native Landscaping Plants
Fall is the ideal time to add native plants to your yard or patio!
If you would like to learn which plants are native to our area, we invite you to view our Chapter’s List of Recommended Native Landscaping Plants (draft version). It highlights plants that are: 1) native to the Phoenix metro area, 2) beneficial to wildlife, 3) low-water-use, 4) relatively easy to care for, and 5) generally available at local nurseries or seed suppliers.
We’ve compiled a list of metro Phoenix nurseries that generally offer a selection of native plants. Some have more variety than others, and inventory changes frequently or may be seasonal. So, it is best to inquire with a few nurseries by phone or email to determine which one suits your needs. Due to precautionary measures currently in place, please contact a nursery directly to determine if they have special operating hours or procedures.
In addition, several local organizations hold plant sale fundraisers in the Spring and Fall. Please see the list below for upcoming events. We’ll update this announcement when any additional local plant sales take place.
Monsoon season and fall are terrific times to add wildflower seeds to your landscape, assuming it rains! For a wide variety of Arizona native plant seeds, we recommend the following sources:
Maricopa Native Seed Library – This new local project offers native seeds for free! Similar in format to other seed libraries, the public may obtain up to 3 seed packets per month. Available at several Maricopa Community Colleges libraries.
If you feel there’s a local nursery, native plant fundraiser, or seed supplier we should add to our list, please let us know!
Additional Chapter Announcements
Invasive Species Alert: Fountain Grass
Fountain grass (Pennisetum setaceum) is a popular landscaping plant, but a dangerous invasive weed. Its seeds easily spread and invade roadsides, washes, and natural areas. As a result, Fountain grass pushes out native plants and wildlife, disrupts water flow and availability, and increases the risk and severity of wildfires. Therefore, it was listed as an Arizona noxious weed in early 2020 and is no longer sold by the nursery trade.
The Arizona Native Plant Society, along with several partners, created an informational pamphlet to help the community learn how to identify and control Fountain grass. Please download, read, and share this important information with others!
An iNaturalist project focused on plants found in urban environments. There are also monthly EcoQuest challenges that focus on certain species. Add your photo observations to the project. Or, if plant identification is your superpower, help to ID what others saw!
Visit one of six local libraries loaning out citizen science tools and supplies.
September Meeting: Presentation Video
Posted on Oct 06, 2021
The Maricopa Native Seed Library: Inspiring and equipping the community to create habitat at home
At our September Chapter meeting, we were treated to an excellent presentation about the Maricopa Native Seed Library by its founder, Danielle Carlock. If you missed the presentation or would like to watch it again, it is available on the AZNPS YouTube channel.
The Maricopa Native Seed Library provides free native seed to the community as well as a variety of resources to inspire and equip residents to create habitat at home. In this presentation, Danielle discusses why and how the seed library was founded. Successes and challenges of the first year are highlighted as well as advice for those interested in a similar project. Danielle also shares what’s coming next for their second year and how to use the seed library.
Fall is the perfect time to plant wildflower seeds. So, we hope you’ll take advantage of this local, FREE resource!
Little Free “Seed” Library
Posted on Oct 05, 2021
New free native seed library and plant nursery in Tempe
By Erik Chait, Phoenix Chapter Member
I am happy to announce a new native seed library and plant nursery that I created in front of my home in Tempe.
I realize that many people in the Valley are not originally from here. There is a real lack of knowledge concerning which plants are native. Another other thing restricting people from planting native plants, besides knowledge, is cost. I figured this native Sonoran Desert seed library solved both issues in one package. You know you are getting native plant seeds and they are free!
The current offering of free seeds includes:
Desert Marigold (Baileya multiradia)
Desert Globemallow (Sphaeralcea ambigua)
Brittlebush (Encelia farinosa)
Desert Senna (Senna covesii)
Arizona Caltrop (Kallstroemia grandiflora)
Mexican Hat (Ratibida columnifera)
In mid-October the following flowers will be added:
Please feel free to stop by and help yourself! My native seed library and plant nursery is located near the Loop 101 freeway and Baseline Road in Tempe. For the exact location, please visit the Little Free Library website and search for charter number 129689.
The seed library and nursery are well lit at nighttime if you are not able to stop by during the day. The library and nursery also has its own FM radio station. When you pull up, please tune to 87.9 MHz on your car radio for information about the library and nursery.
Plant Profile: Arizona Poppy
Posted on Oct 02, 2021
A Poppy is a Poppy, Right? Meet the Arizona Poppy
By Kathleen M. McCoy, AZNPS Phoenix Chapter Member and Arizona Master Naturalist
On a bright sunny day, with air recently cleansed by a long-awaited monsoon storm, miles and miles of plants loaded with beautiful yellow flowers line the sandy edges of a shallow riverbank to the tops of the nearby hillside. From a distance they seem to be California poppies. A closer look suggests these “poppies” are somewhat different and should not be blossoming at this time of year anyway.
Time to pull out the field guide. Problem solved. The mystery “poppy” is often called the Arizona poppy but is not a poppy at all! Arizona poppy (Kallstroemia grandiflora) is a member of the Caltrop family (Zygophyllaceae) not the Poppy family (Papaveraceae). It is also commonly called Desert poppy, Mexican poppy, or Orange caltrop.
From a distance the California poppy (Eschscholzia californica ssp. mexicana) and the Arizona poppy can easily be confused. Petal color and habitat are similar. Both thrive on open plains, mesas, and desert slopes at elevations below 4,000 feet, although the Arizona poppy is also a fan of roadsides.
However, a closer view reveals that Arizona poppies are not as petite. In fact, most are over 3 feet tall forming masses 2 to 5 feet across. This woody stemmed bush has hairy branches which are slightly sticky, unlike the slender 16-inch California poppy whose tidy leaves of similar length form a circle at the stem’s base. Another identification clue is the leaf. Although leaves of these two plants are similar in size, definite color differences exist. Arizona poppy leaves are very hairy and grayish green, in contrast to California poppy’s pale bluish green leaves.
Blossoming times are also different. California poppy blooms on long naked stems during early spring. Arizona poppy waits for the monsoon rains before the showy blossoms appear. Although both plants have yellow to yellow orange petals, the California poppy dons a 1 ½ inch wide, cup-shaped flower which releases a peppery fragrance. In contrast, Arizona poppy produces many flowers ranging in size from ¾ to 1 ½ inch wide with no obvious scent.
A closer look at the flower will provide unqualified proof of identity. California poppy, which remains open for one day, is usually yellow with 4 petal-like cups, but occasionally can be white or orange. Arizona poppy, regardless of petal color, practically shouts out its identification with a deep red center surrounded by 5 bowl-like petals. The red center reflects ultraviolet rays which attract many invertebrates, such as bees, wasps, flies, and butterflies looking for nectar or pollen.
Birds, especially doves and quails, are attracted to the seeds. Arizona poppy produces copious seeds surrounded by a hardened seed coat. Unless the coat has been broken or scarified, they typically will not sprout for several years. The seeds can remain fertile in the desert for at least 3 years until the monsoons signal it’s time to sprout.
Arizona poppy is a colorful addition to native gardens as well as a plant to aid desert restoration. So, even though the Arizona poppy is not actually a poppy, it produces beautiful flowers during July through Septembers when most other plants have long gone to seed. Now the reply to the question, “A poppy is a poppy, right?” can be answered with “Not if it is Kallstroemia grandiflora!”