Living Plant Collections

Spectacular collection of desert plants.

A Spectacular Living Collection

The Desert Botanical Garden is home to one of the world’s most spectacular living collections of the world’s desert plants. Unusual plants including giant cacti, century plants and others in a natural setting create a striking visual treat. The Garden’s living collections includes more than 4,000 species and approximately 27,650 individual plants for which scientific records are kept. In addition to providing a stunning display, these plants provide scientists from all over the world with information and material for various research projects.

In 2010, the Garden’s living collections of plants in the cactus and agave families were designated as National Collections of these plants by the North American Plant Collections Consortium (NAPCC) of the American Public Gardens Association (APGA). This designation highlights the overall excellence of the Garden’s collections of these marvelous desert plants.

Learn more about the Garden's living collections:

Cactaceae Collection

Designated as The National Collection of Cactaceae by the North American Plant Collections Consortium (NAPCC) of the American Public Gardens Association (June,2010)

Since the opening of the Garden in 1939, the Cactaceae has been a main focus of the Garden’s Living Collection. We currently have more than 13,244 accessioned plants, which means that for each plant there is a record of where it came from, the year it arrived at the Garden and who collected it.

Cactaceae Collection Statistics

  • 1,319 taxa of the family Cactaceae or 74% of the total taxa in the cactus family make up the collection
  • Nearly 60% of the plants in the collection have known wild provenance, therefore, this information greatly increases the value of the collection, for display and educational/scientific resource plant material
  • The subfamily Opuntioideae: The garden features the world's most complete collection of this group, displaying 208 of the 261 species and varieties recognized
  • Other major collections include Echinocereus, Mammillaria, Coryphantha, Ferocactus and South American Cacti, especially Copiapoa, Eriosyce and Echinopsis

A World-Class Collection

The quantity and quality of the collection makes this the most prominent cactus collection in the United States and perhaps in the world. A few fun facts:

  • We have become a valuable resource regarding cacti
  • Research in cactus taxonomy has been and continues to be generated by our past and present research staff
  • The horticulture staff has been responsible for developing numerous techniques in the care of a large number of cactus species, both native and introduced
  • World-class exhibits have been created in the last 3 years – including the Sybil B. Harrington Cactus & Succulent Gallery and Ottosen Entry Garden – to display the collection
  • Exhibits are used by our education department in guided tours for school children and the general public


For more information about our Cactaceae collection, contact:

Raul Puente-Martinez
Curator of Living Collections
480-481-8110
or email rpuente@dbg.org