Permanent botanical art exhibit at the
north nountain preserve visitor center, phoenix, az

Over the past year, the Central Arizona Conservation Alliance and a team of citizen botanists led by Wendy Hodgson, Curator of the Desert Botanical Garden Herbarium, have been conducting a floristic inventory of the North Mountain area of the Phoenix Mountains Preserve. The goals of the North Mountain Plant Inventory Project are to: (1) improve our scientific knowledge of the Preserve’s flora for land management, scientific, conservation, and educational purposes; (2) train, engage, and educate members of the public as plant stewards; and (3) provide a data-based plant atlas located on the Southwest Environmental Information Network (SEINet).

Members of the Southwest Society of Botanical Artists (SWSBA), Elaine Hultgren, Joyce Peters, and Marsha Bennett, are working with Stacie Beute of the Conservation Alliance and Leslie Spencer-Snider of the Save Our Mountains Foundation to develop a permanent botanical art collection of these plants that will be exhibited at the North Mountain Visitor Center located in the Preserve. Illustrations have been selected and materials purchased, and signage is being developed. The exhibit will open January 2014.

To date, 137 species and subspecies have been identified on the Preserve, and this number is expected to increase substantially. Less than 20% of the identified species have been illustrated. Botanical artists are being invited to participate by producing scientifically accurate illustrations of the plants in the inventory, which can be found on the SEINet website under “North Mountain Plant Inventory Project”.

We also received a grant from the American Society of Botanical Artists (ASBA) to develop a 5-minute video to enhance the exhibit experience emphasizing botanical art and work of the Citizen Scientists. We will film in the spring and present the video at the 2014 ASBA conference in Denver. Future plans for the exhibit include interactive trail guides and specialty exhibits focusing on such topics as ethnobotany, invasive species, and desert plant adaptations. The sky is the limit! – Marsha Bennett

This appeared in the January and February 2014 issues of the Desert Breeze, the monthly newsletter of the Tucson Cactus and Succulent Society.