Desert Research and Horticulture Center


Nina Mason Pulliam Desert Research and Horticulture Center

The 13,700 square-foot Nina Mason Pulliam Desert Research and Horticulture Center was completed in 2001 with the generous financial support of the Nina Mason Pulliam Charitable Trust. This building contains:

In order to accommodate continued growth of the Garden’s research program, an addition to this structure is planned for completion in 2011. The new addition will contain a 1,200-square-foot, state-of-the-art plant molecular biology laboratory and offices for additional researchers, visiting scientists and students.

The Herbarium

  • Click here to view our collections policies and cost for herbarium services offered.

What is a herbarium?

A herbarium is a natural history collection of preserved plant specimens. For scientists, they are as valuable as any library. These specimens, either whole plants or parts of plants, are usually mounted on archival quality paper with a label that includes information about the specimen and collector. These herbarium sheets are databased, arranged in a systematic order and stored in metal cabinets. They are available for use by botanists, ecologists, anthropologists, archaeologists, land managers and others, in studies as diverse as medical research, conservation, climate change, and ethnobotany.

How is a herbarium used?

Herbarium specimens are used for a wide variety of research including taxonomic (the science dealing with the description, identification, naming, and classification of organisms), evolutionary, and biogeographical studies, to name a few. They are the foundation for Floras (a catalog of plants growing in specific regions, usually with identification keys and species descriptions) and can even be used to provide DNA samples for research.

The Desert Botanical Garden Herbarium (DES) focuses on plants of arid and semi-arid regions of the world with special emphasis on the southwestern US and northern Mexico. Collections were initiated in 1950, and in 1972 DES was designated as a National Resource Collection. Strengths of the Desert Botanical Garden Herbarium include collections representing:

  • Agavaceae and Cactaceae
  • Vascular plants from the southwestern US and northern Mexico
  • Ethnobotany
  • The Garden's Living Collection

DES has ca. 78,560 accessioned sheets of vascular plants. The geographic representation is approximately:

  • Arizona, 42%;
  • Americas south of the US, 27%;
  • US, other than Arizona 20%;
  • Old World and cultivated, 8%.

Areas of taxonomic concentration include the following families in descending order:

  • Cactaceae
  • Asteraceae
  • Agavaceae
  • Fabaceae
  • Poaceae

The Cactaceae and Agavaceae collections are especially valuable because they are large, are geographically well-represented and curated, and include numerous rare taxa.

The DES type collection houses 136 types representing 33 families, with Cactaceae (45) and Agavaceae (34) especially well represented.

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