Through at least Summer 2021, all Chapter activities will continue to take place virtually via Zoom. Our virtual events will be announced at least two weeks in advance to our email list subscribers. To join our email list, please contact email@example.com.
At April’s Chapter meeting, our guest speaker was Jeny Davis, coordinator of the Desert Botanical Garden’s Metro Phoenix EcoFlora. We invite you to watch the recording of her presentation to learn about the City Nature Challenge and how you can participate.
On May 10th, results will be announced. Prizes will be awarded for the most observations made, most species observed, and most identifications made!
Our events 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.
Additional Chapter Announcements
Invasive Species Alert: Stinknet
Help control the spread of Stinknet to protect native habitats and prevent wildfires!
Also known as Globe chamomile (Oncosiphon pilluliferum), Stinknet is a noxious weed that is spreading quickly throughout central Arizona. In Spring, flowering Stinknet plants can easily be spotted. If you have it on your property, take action to remove and dispose of the plants before the seeds ripen and have a chance to spread!
Learn more by downloading our informative Stinknetpamphlet, which is available in English and Spanish.
Stinknet plant flowering. Photo credit: Lisa Rivera
To help prevent wildfires in our public lands, do not drive over dry grass, do not smoke in vegetated areas, and do not use fireworks. Also, take extra care to obey additional fire restrictions that may be in place.
Follow the AZNPS Phoenix Chapter’s Facebook page for more information about local native plants news and events!
We also invite you to follow our Chapter on Instagram and use the hashtag #aznativeplants to help us raise awareness of Arizona’s amazing native plants!
Seeking native plants to use in landscaping?
Native Landscaping Plants
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.
Our Chapter President’s Top 20 Native Landscaping Plants for Metro Phoenix are presented in a webinar recording.
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, many local organizations hold plant sale fundraisers in the Spring and Fall. We’ll update this announcement when any local 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!
Want to get involved? We've got just the thing!
Volunteer activities are currently limited due to COVID-19 precautions. We recommend the following citizen science projects that you can safely participate in on your own while social distancing at home or taking a walk in your neighborhood.
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!
Popular literature often uses the term “Datura” for the 9-12 species in this genus interchangeably even though they are not the same plant. Datura occur widely throughout the temperate and warmer parts of both the Old and New World (US Forest Service, n.d.). In the Southwest, our local species, Datura wrightii (syn Datura meteloides), is colloquially termed Sacred datura or Sacred thorn apple (SEINet, 2021).
Datura species can vary from the perennial Sacred datura, which can grow up to 3-5 feet tall and several feet wide, to the much smaller annual Moon flower (D. discolor), measuring just 18-24 inches tall. Sacred datura can be found worldwide but qualifies as native in Arizona due to its historical presence and ability to support local fauna (Tallamy, 2009). For example, Brown hornworm (Manduca sexta) caterpillars devour the flowers and leaves and the moths use the underside of the leaves for laying their eggs (DesertPlants.org, n.d.). This plant is found across Arizona between 1,000-7,000 feet elevation and typically grows in disturbed areas, often along roadsides (SEINet, 2021).
Likely to catch your eye are its pretty, lily-like trumpet-shaped white flowers, which can reach up to 6 inches long and 3 inches wide. The fragrance of Sacred datura flowers is sweet, as opposed to the foul odor of its sticky, fuzzy dark green leaves when crushed (DuHamel, 2015). Variations in leaf and flower colors or sizes result from different growing, lighting, and moisture conditions.
The flowers produce a small round melon-like fruit covered with spikes which has inspired another common name, “thorn apple.” When dry, the fruit pod pops open to disperse the seeds which sprout easily, fresh or dried, and grow vigorously requiring little to no water. Although excessive cold can cause foliage to die back, the plant’s large tuberous roots will be ready to provide new growth once conditions are more favorable (DuHamel, 2015).
Sacred datura, a member of the potato (Solanaceae) family, is also called deadly nightshade for good reason. All parts of the plant, especially the seeds, contain dangerous levels of anticholinergic tropane alkaloids (Colorado State University, n.d.). However, concentrations of active chemicals vary widely in different parts of the plant.
When ingested by animals, including humans, it can be fatal. Toxic elements affect the autonomic nervous system and can result in blindness, lethargy, sweating, and dry mouth. Survivors typically have significant damage to lungs, stomach, intestines, kidneys, and/or heart which may be coupled with mental impairment.
Even though this plant is the most poisonous narcotic known (SEINet, 2021), archeological evidence shows that Sacred datura has been used by humans in the Southwest for at least 3,000 years (US Forest Service, n.d.). In lesser doses, it is a hallucinogen used to boost sensory perceptions, thought processes, and energy levels. All species of Datura have been revered as sacred visionary plants by Shamans and many cultures worldwide.
For those of you who do not know me, I have had a whorl wind tour over the past ten years, moving from homes in the Washington, DC suburb of Fairfax to a farm in rural Orange County, VA, then to San Antonio, TX, and finally here to Phoenix. Throughout these moves, I have found both human and natural friendship in the form of creating pollinator gardens.
I’ve made a million garden mistakes along the way. I still don’t know what I was thinking when I planted Passion vine (Passiflora incarnata) beside my she shed in rural Virginia. Let’s just say ‘exceeds expectations’ is a polite way to say how much that plant grew. The happy side of that accident was the number of Gulf fritillary butterflies I had hanging around the place.
But the more butterflies my garden plants attracted, the more I needed to learn about pollinators in general. I began wondering about the bees I was seeing and marveling at the flies and beetles on my plants. The more plants I installed, the more I would see creatures I’d never paid any mind. So began my descent into symbiotic relationships within plant communities and my questions exploded exponentially.
Fortunately, I found this wonderful book, Attracting Native Pollinators. It is written by The Xerces Society, an environmental organization dedicated to research and support of the role of invertebrates in the environment.
With a text divided into four sections, this book begins with an introduction to the topic of pollinators and pollination, providing an overview of pollinator biology and commentary on several types of bees, flies, butterflies, moths, and beetles. It concludes with the threats pollinators face, to include loss and fragmentation of habitat, climate change, and pesticides/GMO crops.
In part two the authors discuss a number of ways to take action. Home, school, and community gardens are probably of interest to all of us. This portion of the book provides a simple introduction to providing foraging habitats and nesting and overwintering sites. It also includes information on how to help pollinators in natural areas, greenspaces, and farms.
Part three engages the reader in a deeper dive into the bees of North America, discussing bee families and their unique needs.
Finally, in part four, the reader gets some practical advice in creating pollinator-friendly landscapes. I think those of you so inclined to design your own gardens will find these chapters particularly interesting as they provide sample garden plans and recommendations by region for pollinator and butterfly host plants.
Like all books designed for a wide audience, this book is inclusive of all regions of the United States. It will no doubt inspire you and leave you seeking out more specific information about pollinator-friendly plants native to the many regions of Arizona.
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 the spread of Fountain grass. The timing of its release coincides with the spring flowering of Fountain grass throughout Central and Southern Arizona.
The pamphlet is available for download in two formats. The digital format is best for viewing electronically. The printable format is best for viewing as a tri-fold pamphlet. In addition, a Spanish version will be coming soon.
Please download, read, and share this important information with others!