Cienega Creek Natural Preserve


Tessaria sericea

Proboscidea althaefolia

Eriophyllum lanosum

Cylindropuntia kleiniae


Photos: Julia Fonseca





Coordinating Botanist:  Julia Fonseca


Status:  In Progress


Started:  2013


Taxa List



Photo: Pima County, looking northeast toward Rincon Mountains


With assistance from PAPAZ and University of Arizona Herbarium volunteers, an inventory of the plant diversity of the Cienega Creek Natural Preserve is in progress. The study area includes around 4000 acres of land stretching along twelve miles of the channel.  The study area is located east of Tucson in Pima County at an elevation of around 3500 feet.  The Preserve is located in the Cienega “gap”, between the Rincon Mountains and Agua Verde Hills on the north (see photo), and the northern Santa Rita and Empire Mountains to the south.


Pima County manages the Natural Preserve to protect the vegetation and stream flows and various wildlife species, including several federally-protected species including fish.   Permission for the project has been granted by Pima County Natural Resources, Parks and Recreation Department.  Recreation in the Preserve also requires a free day-use permit from the Department.


We have collected over 450 specimens since 2013.  Special effort is being made to collect in areas representing geomorphic diversity and past disturbance.  This study has resulted in identification of several new exotic species in the Preserve, as well as confirming the persistence of many more species that were previously observed during wetter climatic conditions.  Specimens are being archived at the University of Arizona Herbarium.