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Take a virtual field trip through the Desert Botanical Gardens.

Take a virtual field trip through the Desert Botanical Gardens.

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  • Coursesa.matrix.msu.edu
  • Diagram from the teacher’s guide, Arizona Sonoroan Desert Museum (2011).
  • Diagram from the teacher’s guide, Arizona Sonoroan Desert Museum (2011).
  • Let’s think about all of the different habitats that the desert has. It’s not just dry and sandy.
  • Our desert, theSonoran Desert, has all of these types of habitats and we will look at each.
  • This is the one we see the most in Phoenix.
  • These areas are spread all around and throughout the Phoenix area.
  • This is a photo from Scottsdale Convention and Visitors Bureau. There are many areas near Cave Creek and Carefree that you may have seen like this.
  • These areas are generally near the Eastern part of our state but often if we travel up the I-17 toward Prescott we will see some of these areas. Photo from nwbirding.com
  • Chaparrals are the areas we see when we are on our way to Flagstaff. The desert starts to look a little plusher and we know we are not in our own backyards any longer. Photo:Brewbooksphotostream on Flickr
  • Can you remember how the different habitats were described? See if you can match the photos to the habitats…
  • The arrows point to the correct photos.
  • There are so many different kinds of cactus. We see so many of them each and every day. Let’s start a journal and see how many we can find tomorrow.
  • These are the parts of the cacti plant.
  • We will explore some of the plants at the Botanical Garden. Pretend you are strolling the paths and stopping to take a closer look…
  • Flower photo from desert-tropicals.com
  • Ag.arizona.edu (facts)


  • 1. Botanical Garden Field Trip
    Ms. Laura’s Class
    Located in the Sonoran Desert,
    in Phoenix, Arizona
  • 2. What is a desert?
    A place where there is a shortage of usable water
    The Sonoran Desert is Located here
  • 3. 2 Categories of deserts:horse latitude and rain shadow deserts
    Horse latitude or high pressure zone
    At 30 degrees latitude in both the northern and southern hemispheres, the west coasts of all continents have deserts. These are caused by high pressure zones which result from warm, dry descending air. This downward motion of dry air prevents rain.
  • 4. Rain Shadow
    • Rain Shadow or Orographic Effect
    Moist air crossing a land mass loses its moisture while passing over mountains. As the air moves upward, it cools and moisture it contains condenses dropping precipitation on the windward slope The air is dry by the time it reaches the leeward side resulting in desert conditions.
  • 5. We are now at the entrance of the garden…
  • 6. Habitats
    The Sonoran Desert has many different landforms, soil types and moisture. As a result, several habitats (communities of plants and animals) have developed in this area.
  • 7. Desert Habitat
    The desert, with its many mountains and valleys, is the largest habitat. These plants can survive on less than ten inches of rain per year.
  • 8. Mesquite Bosque
    Along waterways, where ground water is high, small mesquite forests grow. The mesquite tree is an important plant to the desert and the life in it. It is sometimes referred to as the tree of life because it has so many different uses.
  • 9. Desert Oasis
    There are valleys in the desert where one can find streams, pools and ponds. Many trees like cottonwood, willow trees, and cattails would otherwise die without these areas.
  • 10. Semi Desert Grassland
    On the eastern edge of the Sonoran Desert lie semi-desert grasslands. The elevation is higher and the rainfall is about ten to eighteen inches per year. Many grasses, acacia and yucca plants grow here.
  • 11. Chaparral
    The chaparral habitat are mostly in the northern areas of the Sonoran desert at much higher elevations of 2400 to 4100 feet. There is 13-25 inches of rain every year. The juniper and desert spoon make their home here.
  • 12. Match the Habitat
    Mesquite Bosque
    Desert Oasis
    Semi Desert Grassland
    Check the next slide to see if you’re correct!
  • 13. Match the Habitat
    Mesquite Bosque
    Desert Oasis
    Semi Desert Grassland
  • 14. What is a cacti?
    Any succulent plant of the family Cactaceae native to the arid regions of the world and usually having spines.
    Succulent plant:
    water retaining plants that
    store water in their leaves,
    stems, and roots.
  • 15. Parts of a Cacti
  • 16. Tonto Basin Agave
    Agave delamateri
    This plant looks like
    a cacti but is actually
    more related to the
    Lily. It was first used
    by the Sinagua Indians. It cannot reproduce by flowers and seeds, instead it uses clones to reproduce.
  • 17. Strawberry Hedgehog
    • Clumping cacti with erect light green stems. It has bright pink flowers from February through April in the Sonoran Desert. The flowers close at night and reopen in the morning.
  • Creosote Bush
    • Evergreen shrub which can survive at least two years without rainfall.
    • 18. It has a sticky resin which has a distinct odor after it rains. The O’odham people used it for medicinal purposes.
  • Coryphantha
    • This cactus needs some light shade. It gets to be about three inches tall and reproduces by seeds.
    • 19. It can get a large yellow flower in the spring.
  • Organ Pipe Cactus
    • This cactus species has several narrow stems that grow from a single trunk just above the ground. They can get to be about sixteen feet tall but some have been known to reach up to twenty-six feet. It takes 150 years for them to be fully grown.
  • Whortleberry Cactus
    • This cactus thrives in full sun. It is sometimes called the Blue Candle Cacti. It can grow to be up to fifteen feet tall.
    • 20. It reproduces by seeds or cuttings.
  • Barrel Cactus
    • Sometimes called Fishhook Cactus
    • 21. Produces ripe fruit that desert animals love.
    • 22. Can live up to 130 years.
    • 23. Extremely hardy. Can live in temperatures as cold as ten degrees.
    (ag.arizona.edu, 2011)
  • 24. Old Man of the Andes
    • Found in higher altitudes like Sedona.
    • 25. Covered in long, white hair-like spines. They can be small clusters or tall plants that can grow to over ten feet tall.
    • 26. It has purple flowers.
  • Exiting the Garden
    As we bid farewell to all of the amazing desert plants, let’s stop and remember how truly beautiful the desert can be.
  • 27. References
    Arizona Sonoran Desert Museum (2011) Education and online learning. Retrieved April 10, 2011 from
    College of Agriculture and Life Sciences (2011) The University of Arizona. Retrieved April 11, 2011 from
    Desert Botanical Garden (2010) Retrieved April 10, 2011 from
    Photo credits:
    All photos taken by Laura Altmaier unless otherwise specified.
    Flower photo slide 19 from desert-tropicals.com
    Map from slide 3: http://www.coursesa.matrix.msu.edu
    Diagrams on slide 4 and 5 from www.desertmuseum.org