Upper Verde River



Ipomoea cristulata


Coryphantha missouriensis


Cryptantha cinerea


Bidens laevis



Coordinating Botanist:  Frankie Coburn


Status:  In Progress


Started:  2011


Taxa List





The Verde River is a main tributary in the lower Colorado River Basin and possesses one of the longest remaining stretches of wild, unregulated river in the southwest. The upper section flows through the Central Highlands of Arizona from the headwater springs near Paulden, in the Chino Valley at 4500 ft, southeast ca. 45 river miles to Clarkdale, in the Verde Valley, at 3000 ft. This remote stretch of the river rolls through alternating canyons and valleys incised into a mosaic of geologic formations. Covering the hillsides and canyons are expanses of Great Basin/Plains Grassland, Pinyon Juniper Woodland, Interior Chaparral, Desert Grassland and upper Sonoran Scrub, these all bisected by the riparian woodlands, meadows and floodplains of the Verde River. This variety of habitats and geology hosts a diverse assemblage of plant species including narrow endemics that grow on limestone, plants from various regions, shady mesic associations in canyons, and abundant riparian vegetation along the river bottom. The combination of a vital perennial water source, and the abundant wildlife and ecosystems it supports, combined with the scenic surroundings and cultural resources have led to conservation efforts to protect both the Verde flows and the landscape they flow through. Despite the values of this special area, no complete floristic inventory existed before this project.


The study area includes the Upper Verde riparian corridor, tributaries, their canyons or valleys and the surrounding rims, mesas and hills to a distance of approximately 1-1.5km(0.62mi) on both sides of the river, forming an area of approximately 37,065 acres (1500 hectares, 58mi2). The majority of this stretch is remote backcountry but many areas are easily accessible, offering opportunities from moderate day hikes to multi-day backpacking and car-camping trips. With very few maintained hiking trails, travel is done mostly by route finding through riparian forests, hiking along rims and hillsides, and wading and boulder hopping along the river. From Prescott/Chino Valley the best access is via Hwy 89A to Verde Ranch Road and FR 318 Perkinsville Road which runs from Chino Valley to Jerome. The best access points from Clarkdale/Cottonwood are off of FR 131, Sycamore Canyon Road. These roads are maintained but many roads and trails that split off require a high-clearance/4-wheel drive vehicle.


So far, 690 species have been vouchered and inspection of additional collections will likely bring the number of taxa to over 720 species. Many areas are left to be thoroughly collected and the spring flora needs to be targeted in various areas. Many remote rims and some of the riparian sections in particular need attention and its likely new species will be added from these areas. New species are added to the flora each time we visit so the potential to make contributions is very high.