Boyce Thompson Arboretum: Desert Haven For Plants and Animals

Experience Arizona | 22 Feb, 2012 |

Boyce Thompson Arboretum proves that the dessert is not deserted. The Arboretum features thousands of desert plants living in harmony with the original landscape and wildlife.

The arboretum’s mission is “to instill in people an appreciation of plants through the fostering of educational, recreational, research and conservation opportunities associated with arid-land plants,” according to the website.

This mission is achieved through your enjoyment of the collection of wildlife, variety of trails and by learning about and observing the thousands of plants that surround you.

The Arboretum offers various services from guided tours for children’s fieldtrips or any visitor that is interested to allowing the space to be used as the venue for a wedding.

It’s also a destination for all ages and breathes of familiarity. For the casual visitor it is an orientation to the vegetation of deserts around the world and for the plant enthusiast it is a rare opportunity to observe and closely examine a large variety of arid-adapted plants.

The Arboretum is composed of several gardens that focus on different types of plants including cacti, trees, legume (pea family) vegetation, and water-efficient residential plants that can be used in your own home gardens. A butterfly and children’s garden are also available for visitors to enjoy and explore.

The Arboretum hosts a collection of water-efficient plants from around the world and a lot of the landscape is radically different from our popular image of the southwest. The landscapes are a mosaic of colors, shapes and textures that differ according to the area’s specific environment.

The Arboretum’s gardens are irrigated by Ayer Lake, which is a man-made oasis that also provides a haven for local wildlife. Waterfowl, waders and shorebirds are a common sight along with two species of endangered desert fish introduced by the Arizona Game and Fish Department.

Animals are not hard to come by at the Arboretum. Over 300 species of mammals, reptiles, birds and amphibians inhabit the area for visitors to spot. The Arboretum’s protected lands and irrigated gardens provide a haven for local wildlife against the harsh elements of the desert.

The Arboretum gives the desert life and is a great chance to get connected to nature in an untraditional way.

For more information, visit

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