Meetings of the Tucson Chapter

Location for Chapter Meetings

The Tucson chapter holds meetings between September and May each year, with a summer break.  As a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, our meetings in 2021-2022 will be conducted via Zoom.  We will continue to meet on the second Thursday of each month at 7:00 pm.  The meeting zoom will open at 6:45 pm to allow us to interact socially before the speaker begins.  Mailing list members will receive a Zoom link the Monday before the meeting.  If you are not on our mailing list and wish to attend one of our meetings on Zoom, email us at NativePlantsTucson@gmail.com to request the Zoom link.  Videos of past meetings can be found on our YouTube channel.

Tucson Chapter Meeting

Thursday, January 13, 2022 at 7:00 pm via Zoom

In the Arms of Saguaros:

Iconography of the Giant Cactus

Presented by

 Larry Bird

Curator Emeritus, National Museum of American History, Smithsonian Institution

Pictorial American, Arizona Edition 1950, photo by Ray Manley

The quintessential image of “cactus” and of “desert” in the minds of most people is Carnegiea gigantea, our beloved saguaro.  How has this one relatively restricted plant species come to bear the burden of so many expectations and assumptions?  In this talk, Larry Bird will draw from his recent book, In the Arms of Saguaros: Iconography of the Giant Cactus, to discuss the history of the saguaro cactus and its popular imagery.

Woman with saguaro, snapshot 1945

Larry’s illustrated talk will follow the history of saguaro imagery beginning with the earliest published renderings of the saguaro cactus, dating to the era of botanical discovery in the Sonoran Desert. Later, a dramatic uptick in saguaro imagery followed the railroad’s penetration of the Sonoran Desert in the early 1880s. Not until the years bracketing the Second World War did southern Arizona’s travel and tourism industry elevate the saguaro to the status of a regional icon, and a symbol of the American West.



William L (Larry) Bird

William Lawrence (Larry) Bird, Jr. is Curator Emeritus of the National Museum of American History, Smithsonian Institution.  Larry holds a Ph.D. in American History from Georgetown University (1985). He earned his M.A. in American History from the University of Arizona (1975) and his B.A. in American History from the University of Maryland (1973).

Larry began his museum career as a graduate student at the University of Arizona, working part time at the Arizona Historical Society with a grant-in-aid funded by Emery and Ann-Eve Johnson. He is the author of several books and a curator of Smithsonian exhibits drawn from museum and archival source material at the intersection of politics and popular culture. His Smithsonian exhibits and their companion books include Paint by Number; Holidays on Display; and Souvenir Nation.  His book In the Arms of Saguaros: Iconography of the Giant Cactus, is published by the Desert Laboratory on Tumamoc Hill – University of Arizona.

The zoom link for the meeting will be sent to the eblast mailing list on Monday, January 10, 2022.  The meeting will open at 6:45 pm to allow socializing before our speaker begins.

Field Trip to the Pima County Native Plant Nursery, THURSDAY, JANUARY 6, 2022, at 10:30 am.

Welcome the new year with a close-to-home field trip to one of the hidden gems of Pima County – the Pima County Native Plant Nursery.  Under the guidance of director Amy Belk, the nursery is responsible for propagating most of the plant materials used throughout Pima County in landscaping and restoration.  Established in 2001 as an element of the Pima County Conservation Plan, the nursery maintains a stock of thousands of plants of over 150 species which are available to assist groundskeeping projects at county properties, including offices, parks and open spaces.  We will see the greenhouse and grow-out facilities, get a sense of the scale of their operation, discover where their plants find “forever homes,” and learn about techniques for germination and propagation of native plant species.  The trip will involve some walking on sometimes uneven ground, and will last about 90 minutes.

This field trip is open only to fully vaccinated AZNPS participants and is limited to 20 guests.  Participants must wear a mask.  Masks are required by Pima County in enclosed spaces, such as greenhouses, or where we cannot maintain distancing.  Please RSVP, with subject line “Native Plant Nursery Trip,” to nativeplantstucson@gmail.com.   On Jan 6, meet before 10:30 at the front gate of the Nursery, at 5845 N. Camino De La Tierra just south of Orange Grove.  To get there, navigate to Orange Grove east of I-10.  Camino De La Tierra is between Thornydale and Shannon Drive.  Turn south on N. Camino De La Tierra and go about 4 blocks.  Pass the parking lots for the Pima Parks and Rec facility, and before the underpass, the nursery is on your right (west side).  The GPS coordinates are lat 32.313211, long -111.037844.


For a list of credits and links to information about Botanical Art and Illustration, click HERE!

Recipes from December’s Deserts Libations Program –  CLICK HERE.


Join Our Chapter E-list:  If you would like to receive reminders and announcements about field trips and meetings via e-mail, send a note to Lyn Loveless to be added to the list. Stay informed by joining us on Facebook.

Usually the most up-to-date information about upcoming chapter events can be found on our Facebook page.


Sonoran Desert Plants: Seasonal Flowering Schedules – Based on 20 years of data from 1966-1985 by William G. McGinnies


Chapter Leadership

Name Role Contact
Lyn Loveless President lyndloveless@gmail.com
Jack Dash Vice President pjdash23@gmail.com
Jackie Taylor Treasurer jackieot@cox.net

Volunteering Opportunities

Want to get involved? We've got just the thing!

Cholla flower with visiting Diadasia

Do you like native plants?

Caring for agave and baby cacti? Consider volunteer opportunities at the Pima County Native Plant Nursery! Located at 5845 N. Camino de la Tierra, the Pima County Native Plant Nursery grows native plants for public projects and is looking for volunteers to help with weeding, watering and propagation. The nursery is open Monday to Friday 7:00am to 3:30 pm. Email Amy for available times/days and details. Plant salvage at Cortaro Farms from Camino Del Oeste to Thornydate prior to road improvement project.


Chapter News

Dr. Michael Crimmins discussing drought and climate change in Arizona

Posted on Jul 13, 2021

This was from the May meeting of the Tucson Chapter.

“Bringing Back Mother Nature from Fountaingrass Strangulation and the Bighorn Fire in Alamo and Cargodera Canyons.”

Posted on Mar 16, 2021

From the Tucson Chapter meeting on November 12, 2020.  Our Speakers were John Scheuring and Patty Estes.


See what your chapter has been up to!