Desert Botanical Garden
In the Physiology Lab at the Desert Botanical Garden, research staff specifically focuses on how desert plants have evolved to maximize photosynthesis when faced with difficult conditions such as drought, extremely warm temperatures and other environmental challenges.
In North America, there are more than 200 orchid species, and more than half of them are endangered or threatened. The Canelo Hills ladies’-tresses orchid, Spiranthes delitescens, which is only known to grow in five localities in southern Arizona, was described as a new species in 1990 and listed as an endangered species in 1997.
The Desert Botanical Garden’s longest-running tradition is Las Noches de las Luminarias (Luminaria). On a cold December night back in 1978, volunteers and staff worked to light 700 luminarias and welcome 600 guests for a one-night experience at the Garden.
In 1997, the Garden launched the Desert Landscape Certificate School program that provided education on all aspects of desert landscape installation and maintenance. The program was later redesigned and a new model has been piloted and will be launched in the spring of 2017.
Spaces of Opportunity is an 18-acre parcel of land in south Phoenix that is being converted into a community-based farm. Through a partnership with Desert Botanical Garden, St. Luke’s Health Initiative, the Roosevelt School District and Cultivate South Phoenix (CUSP), this urban agriculture initiative will transform a food desert to a food oasis
In 1966, Desert Botanical Garden started a seed bank, motivated by conservation, which is one of the pillars of the Garden’s mission. This seed bank, containing more than 4,000 accessioned seeds, has allowed the Garden to conserve plants by banking their seeds.
At a volunteer recognition event in April, the “Name Game” was presented to volunteers. With a description of the plant and guidelines in place, volunteers were asked to submit potential plant names over the following months.
In October 2015, the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) released the Red List of Threatened Species. Cacti are now ranked as the fifth most threatened group of living things in the world.
Monarch butterflies are spotted in Arizona between October and April. While monarchs are not in Arizona year round, the state is in the migration path for both the western and eastern populations of monarch butterflies. Annually, these iconic insects set out on a great journey to either California or Mexico.
Desert Botanical Garden is a living museum, requiring equal parts living plants and aesthetically pleasing displays. With beauty and plant health at the forefront of our day-to-day operations, maintenance is a full-time job for the Horticulture department and their nearly 100 volunteers.