Tumamoc's plants

A fabulosity of wildflowers!

The finest bits of desert in the Tucson Region seem like some immense botanical garden...
widely dissimilar plants that ... are mingled with each other in matchless landscape effects.
— Forrest Shreve, 1930

Catalogue WeeWorts Saguaro

Come explore the more than 300 species of native flowering plants that call Tumamoc home. Showy cacti, thorny acacias with fabulous perfumes, desert grasses, mysterious vines, a ravenous root-parasite, gorgeous ephemerals that show up only after good rains, and unlovely little weedy things that cling to life despite the fact that human beings could not care less about them.

And there are about fifty exotic species, too! Some, like buffelgrass, we dearly wish we could get rid of.

Tumamoc has so many species because it has a wealth of habitats and seasons. It has rocky slopes, bajadas, washes and the tall hill itself. It experiences both the monsoons of summer and the sporadic winter rains of the Mojave. Just like businesses, each species needs to do some special thing in order to survive, so all of this variation allows plants to specialize and stay diverse.

Tumamoc's scientists continue to explore the secrets behind the survival of so many plant species. Some of their answers involve climate specialization and are leading to a better understanding of what to expect from climate change. Other answers point to differences in the roots of different species — some spread widely to take advantage of the water of thunderstorms, which rapidly runs off the landscape without penetrating very far; some tap deeply into the longer lasting moisture far beneath the soil's surface. Some manage because of interactions with pollinators or other plants. And some depend on how intensely and directly the sun shines on their little corner of the Hill.