2021 Arizona Botany Meeting

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.

View the event listing on Eventbrite for program details and registration information.


Chapter Meetings & Events

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

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:

  • Fountain grass
  • Native grasses (Bouteloua, Aristida, Hilaria, and Muhlenbergia)

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.

In addition, the Metro Phoenix EcoFlora is hosting several free events related to grass identification and fountain grass research. Learn more and register via Eventbrite.

Book Discussion: A Sand County Almanac – Sunday, October 24th at 7:00 PM

We are teaming up with the Arizona Master Naturalists – Maricopa County Parks Chapter for their October book club meeting! We will discuss Aldo Leopold’s classic book A Sand County Almanac. To participate in our discussion, please locate and read the book in the coming weeks.

This event will take place via Zoom, hosted by the Arizona Master Naturalists. Please register to receive the virtual meeting link.

Additional Events

View the AZNPS Events Calendar to learn about upcoming events hosted by other Chapters throughout the state. Also, recordings of many past events are available to watch on the AZNPS YouTube page.


Join our virtual community!

To stay up to date on our meetings and other activities, please join our email list.

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.

The AZNPS Grow Native resources provide additional information about landscaping with native plants, including planning your garden and pamphlets available to download.

Local Nurseries & Plant Sales

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.

Boyce Thompson Arboretum – Fall Plant Sale: October 8th (members) 9th-24th (public)

Audubon Southwest Fall Plant Sale: October, while supplies last

Desert Botanical Garden – Fall Plant Sale: October 14th-15th (members) 16th-17th (public) (Reservation required for entry)

Butterfly Wonderland – Fall Plant Sale: October 16th-17th

Center for Native and Urban Wildlife – Fall Plant Sale: October 21st-22nd

Wildflower Seeds

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.

Native Seeds/SEARCH – Purchase seeds online from their conservation farm in southern Arizona.

Borderlands Restoration Network – Purchase seeds online or visit their nursery in Patagonia.

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!

The Fountain grass pamphlet is available in two formats. The digital format is best for viewing electronically. The printable format is best for viewing as a tri-fold pamphlet. In addition, there is a Spanish version of the pamphlet.

Fountain grass is a popular landscaping plant, but a dangerous invasive weed. If you have it in your landscape, please remove it.

Chapter Leadership

Name Role Contact
Lisa Rivera President
Pam McMillie Vice President
Danielle Carlock Treasurer
Kathy Balman Secretary

Volunteering Opportunities

Want to get involved? We've got just the thing!

Outdoor Opportunities

If you are interested in volunteer activities related to restoration, invasive species control, gardening, conservation, or scientific research, we recommend contacting the following organizations.

Citizen Science Opportunities

These are citizen science projects you can participate in on your own at home, during a walk in your neighborhood, or while visiting Arizona’s public lands.

Metro Phoenix EcoFlora

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!

Nature’s Notebook

Document the seasonal changes in plants or animals near your home by becoming a USA – National Phenology Network observer.

Desert Defenders

A special initiative in metro Phoenix to identify and map invasive plants. There is also a special project dedicated to locating stinknet (Oncosiphon piluliferum/pilulifer).

Buffelgrass Green-up

Contribute invasive buffelgrass observations to the USA – National Phenology Network’s Buffelgrass Green-Up phenophase map.

Western Monarch Milkweed Mapper

If you see milkweed plants or monarch butterflies, eggs, or caterpillars while outdoors, take a photo and submit your sighting to this regional project.

Southwest Monarch Study

Monarchs need milkweed and nectar plants, so hopefully you have these growing in your yard or neighborhood! Join this monarch “tagging” project to help document Western monarch migration.


Native plants attract a variety of birds. Report the type of birds you see in your yard, neighborhood, or local park.

Bumble Bee Watch

Native flowering plants are essential for bumble bees. Help scientists track their populations by submitting photos of the ones you see.

If you have a rain gauge at home (or decide to purchase one), join this Arizona rainfall monitoring network to submit your daily rainfall totals.


Access digitized natural history data online to help transcribe and decipher field notebooks, photographs, museum labels, and data sheets from around the world.


Select from a variety of online projects to contribute to real academic research from your own computer.

Libraries as Hubs for Citizen Science

Visit one of six local libraries loaning out citizen science tools and supplies.

Chapter News

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:

  • Parry’s Beardtongue (Penstemon parryi)
  • Blanketflower (Gaillardia pinnatifida)
  • Desert Chia (Salvia columbariae)
  • Southwestern Pricklypoppy (Argemone pleiacantha)

Current free plant offerings include:

  • Velvet Mesquite (Prosopis velutina)
  • Foothills/Yellow Paloverde (Parkinsonia microphylla)

In mid-October the following trees will be added:

  • Desert Ironwood (Olneya Tesota)
  • Smoke Tree (Psorothamnus spinosus)
  • Blue Paloverde (Parkinsonia florida)

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

Leer en español

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.

Arizona poppy (Kallstroemia grandiflora)

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.

Honey-tailed striped sweat bee collecting pollen from Arizona poppy flower.

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!”

Skipper in a patch of Arizona poppy.

Photo credits: Lisa Rivera


Arizona State University. (n.d.) Kallstroemia grandiflora.

DesertUSA. (2021). Arizona poppy, Kallstroemia grandiflora.

Lady Bird Johnson Wildlflower Center. (2021). Eschscholzia californica ssp. mexicana.

Southwest Desert Flora. (2017). Kallstroemia grandiflora, Arizona poppy.,%20Arizona%20Poppy.html


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