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Our activities are open to Chapter members as well as the general public, unless stated otherwise. If you’re interested in becoming a Chapter member, please view the Membership page. Yearly membership is just $30 for individuals, $15 for students, and $35 for families.
Summer Chapter Meeting – Sunday, August 28 at 2:00 PM
Book Discussion: The Hidden Life of Trees
We’ll begin this virtual meeting with 10 minutes of networking and socializing, enabling participants to seek tips and recommendations from members on topics related to native plants. Next, we’ll share Chapter announcements.
Then, we’ll discuss the book The Hidden Life of Trees: What they Feel, How they Communicate by Peter Wohlleben. If you would like to discuss the book, please obtain a copy and read it prior to our meeting date.
If you would like to learn which plants are native to our area, we invite you to view our Chapter’s List of Recommended Native Landscaping Plants (draft version). It highlights plants that are: 1) native to the Phoenix metro area, 2) beneficial to wildlife, 3) low-water-use, 4) relatively easy to care for, and 5) generally available at local nurseries or seed suppliers.
We’ve compiled a list of metro Phoenix nurseries that generally offer a selection of native plants. Some have more variety than others, and inventory changes frequently or may be seasonal. So, it is best to inquire with a few nurseries by phone or email to determine which one suits your needs. Due to precautionary measures currently in place, please contact a nursery directly to determine if they have special operating hours or procedures.
In addition, several organizations hold desert plant sale fundraisers in the Spring and Fall. We’ll update this announcement when local native plant sales take place.
Monsoon season and fall are terrific times to add wildflower seeds to your landscape, assuming it rains! For a wide variety of Arizona native plant seeds, we recommend the following sources:
Maricopa Native Seed Library – This new local project offers native seeds for free! Similar in format to other seed libraries, the public may obtain up to 3 seed packets per month. Available at several Maricopa Community Colleges libraries.
If you feel there’s a local nursery, native plant fundraiser, or seed supplier we should add to our list, please let us know!
Additional Chapter Announcements
Invasive Species Alert: Fountain Grass
Fountain grass (Pennisetum setaceum) is a popular landscaping plant, but a dangerous invasive weed. Its seeds easily spread and invade roadsides, washes, and natural areas. As a result, Fountain grass pushes out native plants and wildlife, disrupts water flow and availability, and increases the risk and severity of wildfires. Therefore, it was listed as an Arizona noxious weed in early 2020 and is no longer sold by the nursery trade.
The Arizona Native Plant Society, along with several partners, created an informational pamphlet to help the community learn how to identify and control Fountain grass. Please download, read, and share this important information with others!
An iNaturalist project focused on plants found in urban environments. There are also monthly EcoQuest challenges that focus on certain species. Add your photo observations to the project. Or, if plant identification is your superpower, help to ID what others saw!
Does “flattop buckwheat” summon visions of stacks of pancakes dripping in delicious honey? If so, your mouthwatering vision is partially correct.Flattop buckwheat (Eriogonum fasciculatum var. polifolium), also known as Eastern Mojave buckwheat, is a low, rounded, fast-growing shrub not to be confused with common buckwheat (Fagopyrum esculentum), a domestic crop cultivated for edible seeds.
Across the entire Southwest over 355 members of the buckwheat family (Polygonaceae), often difficult to distinguish structurally, find their home in sunny coarse and well drained soils along washes and rocky slopes. In the Mojave and Sonoran Deserts, E. fasciculatum is the most common buckwheat.
Although lots of Flattop buckwheat decorate the desert, this miniature evergreen fully grown is usually only 1 foot tall by 2 feet wide with typical desert gray-green foliage. Arriving in late spring, clusters of flat-topped white flowers gradually turn pink in summer, then rust colored in fall.
The ‘B’ in buckwheat is for butterflies, bees, and birds. The slightly fragrant flowers are a wildly popular lure for several butterflies, most notably the Mormon metalmark (Apodemia mormo), the Rocky Mountain dotted-blue (Euphilotes ancilla) and the Lupine blue (Icaricia lupini). These butterflies also use Flattop buckwheat as a host plant for their caterpillars.
A favorite of bees, native and nonnative, this pollinator plant provides a good source of nectar. Luckily for humans, bees use these plants predominantly as a basis for tasty honey. Not only is this honey healthy for our diets, but also for the economy. E. fasciculatumis the principal honey-producing plant in southern California. When other flowers have long gone to seed, flattop buckwheat still supplies food for hungry birds due to its extensive growing season.
In fact, some farmers use buckwheat for a dual purpose, making honey and as a form of integrated pest management. When planted next to crops or in cultivated gardens, their nectar attracts beneficial insects that in turn reduce pests. Pest reduction means less need for chemicals in our flower beds and vegetables. Flattop buckwheat can also serve as a ground cover crop, helping to improve soil health plus providing crops protection from soilborne pathogens.
Wild E. fasciculatum is a low-profile desert plant, often overlooked and underappreciated. If you want to enhance and create an almost year-round pollinator garden, raise Flattop buckwheat… a low maintenance, easy-to-grow plant that sweetens the pot for butterflies, bees, birds, and possibly your buckwheat pancakes.