Desert Plants is a unique botanical journal published by The University of Arizona for Boyce Thompson Southwestern Arboretum. This journal is devoted to encouraging the appreciation of indigenous and adapted arid land plants. Desert Plants publishes a variety of manuscripts intended for amateur and professional desert plant enthusiasts. A few of the diverse topics covered include desert horticulture, landscape architecture, desert ecology, and history. First published in 1979, Desert Plants is currently published biannually with issues in June and December.

Digital access to this material is made possible by the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences, Boyce Thompson Southwestern Arboretum, and the University Libraries at the University of Arizona.


Contact College of Agriculture and Life Sciences Publications at pubs@cals.arizona.edu.

Table of Contents

Recent Submissions

  • Chollas, Circles and Seris: Did Seri Indians Plant Cactus at Circle 6

    Bowen, Thomas; Felger, Richard S.; Hills, R. James; The Southwest Center, University of Arizona; Drylands Institute; Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum (University of Arizona (Tucson, AZ), 2004-12)
    On November 26, 1966, during an archaeological survey, one of us (Bowen) and Stephen D. Hayden discovered a circle of stones on Punta Santa Rosa, a prominent point of land on the coast of mainland Sonora, Mexico (Figure 1 ). This in itself was not remarkable because they had encountered other circles previously. What was noteworthy was that this particular circle was surrounded by a ring of small jumping cholla cacti (Cylindropuntia fulgida var. fulgida) that seemed obviously planted. Punta Santa Rosa lies within the historic territory of the Seri (or Comcaac) Indians, and Bowen and Hayden knew that the Seris had used stone circles as part of the traditional vision quest. But since the Seris were considered a nonagricultural hunting-gathering-fishing people, the association of a presumably Seri circle with cacti that appeared intentionally planted seemed incongruous. At that time, however, Bowen and Hayden did nothing more with this odd feature than photograph it, give it the prosaic designation "Circle 6", and pass it off in an archaeological report as probably just an unusual Seri vision ring (Bowen 1976: 40). They did not anticipate that Circle 6 would continue to pose an ethnobotanical puzzle and one day provide an object lesson in archaeological interpretation. But puzzle it was. In this paper we reexamine Circle 6 in light of the known history of Seri planting. We consider several hypotheses, some of them proposed by modern Seris, about the circle's age, cultural identity, and function. We conclude that the original interpretation of Circle 6 as a vision ring is incorrect but that the peculiar cholla ring most likely does constitute a case of purposeful Seri planting.
  • The Sperrgebiet - a Diversity Hotspot of Desert Plants

    Burke, Antje; Mannheimer, Coleen; National Botanical Research Institute of Namibia (University of Arizona (Tucson, AZ), 2004-12)
  • A Rapid Biological and Ecological Inventory and Assessment of the Cajon Bonito Watershed, Sonora, Mexico. PartII: Using the Variable Transect

    Hunt, Robert; Anderson, Walter; Environmental Studies Program, Prescott College (University of Arizona (Tucson, AZ), 2004-12)
    The variable transect is an abbreviated, simplified version of a standard belt transect used in floristic analysis. Developed by the Rapid Assessment Program of Conservation International as part of a suite of "emergency field ecology" methods, it allows scientists to quickly inventory and assess habitats with high biodiversity values that are threatened by imminent development or other human activities. This alternate method was utilized in a study of Cajon Bonito in Sonora, Mexico. Assessment of the variable transect's value as both a convenient qualitative and quantitative tool for field studies and observations in the plant communities of the Southwest is reflected in the resulting database. The method proved flexible enough to vary the suite of floristic data to be sampled with little significant variation in the time spent applying the transect. The relatively quick sampling of flora, combined with easily characterized environmental observations, yields a wealth of information with less effort than most standard field methods.
  • Desert Plants, Volume 20, Number 2 (December 2004)

    Unknown author (University of Arizona (Tucson, AZ), 2004-12)