Metro Phoenix Ecoflora | Desert Botanical Garden


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The Metro Phoenix EcoFlora project is making plant science meaningful and open for everyone, while we learn about the biodiversity of our urban desert home. We need your help! 

A rare plant in a park? A sleeping bobcat in the backyard? What else could be out there? Let’s find out!

Using iNaturalist, a free app that can identify plants and animals, you can help document urban biodiversity. Join the Metro Phoenix EcoFlora project to study plants and wildlife in metro Phoenix. Plus, enjoy events, rewards, EcoQuest challenges and more.

This is an opportunity to contribute to real-life science while studying plants in metro Phoenix, what is happening with them, and how these plants are interacting with other organisms. The information gathered through this project will provide insight into bigger biodiversity science questions and contribute to local conservation efforts.

What are Ecoquests?

In addition to the overall project, each month brings a new EcoQuest to participate in. EcoQuests are like hide-and-seek games for urban biodiversity, seeking certain plants or plant interactions. Each quest is like a mini project, filled with information and resources about the monthly subject. The results from the EcoQuests can provide information for research, such as pollinator counts, invasive species mapping or wildlife habitat.

September EcoQuest | What’s That Weed?

Observations from this month’s EcoQuest can help us learn more about these common plants and how they can be more than a weedy nuisance.

August EcoQuest

Join the August EcoQuest: Look Out for Lovebirds   Find and map as many rosy-faced lovebirds Agapornis roseicollis and the plants they interact with as possible.     Rosy-faced lovebirds can be seen...

July EcoQuest | Oleander Occurrence

Join the July EcoQuest: Oleander Occurance This month’s EcoQuest is in collaboration with Strategic Habitat Enhancements (SHE). Strategic Habitat Enhancements empowers the community to reconnect...

June Ecoflora Challenge | The Night Shift

Header Photo: John HoffmanMany people are familiar with honeybees, birds and other species that are daytime pollinators, but which ones are busy working at night? Nocturnal pollinators are...

March Ecoflora Challenge | Wildflower Wonders

Join the March EcoQuest: Wildflower Wonders. Find and map as many wildflowers as possible. Wildflower season is a cherished phenomenon in the Sonoran Desert. Blanketing the desert floor with...

February Ecoflora Challenge | Monarchs, Milkweed and Mystery

Join the February EcoQuest: Monarchs, Milkweeds and Mystery Find and map as many monarch butterflies (Danaus plexippus) and milkweed plants (Asclepias spp.) as possible. Monarch butterflies are in...

January Ecoflora Challenge | Seize the Cheese

Join the January EcoQuest: Seize the Cheese Cheeseweed, Malva Parviflora, is a somewhat low-growing forb that can form large, overtaking clumps, sometimes the size of small shrubs. It has been...

December Ecoflora Challenge | Spot Spurge

Join the December EcoQuest: Spot Spurge Find and map as many sandmat spurge plants (Euphorbia sect. Anisophyllum) as possible. Poinsettias (Euphorbia pulcherrima) are often a botanical highlight of...

November EcoQuest Challenge | Broom Bloom

This EcoQuest is focused on desert broom (Baccharis sarothroides). Find and map as many desert broom as possible. As a bonus, see if you can also find great purple hairstreak butterflies (Atlides...

Nature Sightings | A Recap of Metro Phoenix EcoFlora Project Observations

For the last few months, Desert Botanical Garden and the Central Arizona Conservation Alliance have asked for your help to find and photograph the plants, animals and insects in your neighborhood,...

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Community Collaborators


The Metro Phoenix EcoFlora is in collaboration with the Central Arizona Conservation Alliance (CAZCA), an initiative of Desert Botanical Garden, who supports organizations and the people of Arizona to protect and care for natural, open spaces that serve our communities and protect the habitat of the Sonoran Desert in Central Arizona.

Looking to collaborate with EcoFlora? Send a message to


Should I use the iNaturalist website or app?

Both! The app is great for observations on-the-go or in the field, and the website is great for community, sending messages, making identifications and more.

Why do I need to join the project?

Joining the project adds your observations to the project and keeps you up to date with happenings, announcements and more.

Can I observe the plants in my yard or animals at the zoo?

Domesticated or captive animals (like cats, dogs or animals at the zoo) and houseplants should not be observed. Cultivated plants (planted by humans) can be observed, preferably those that exist in a place for a long time (think trees, cactus, etc.). Planting beds or containers that are regularly replanted are not recommended for observing.

How do I observe a lot of one species in one place?

Observe each one individually or observe one and accompany it with a “note” estimating how many are in the area. Also include an image showing the overall site. Individual observations are preferred, but we understand that can be a daunting task! One observation is better than no observation.

How do I observe a plant and an animal or insect in one photo?

Upload one observation for the plant and one for the insect or animal. It’s okay to use the same images for both.

Why urban biodiversity?

We are experiencing rapid urbanization here in the Valley. We have floras or are working on floras for most of the parks in the area, but we don’t really know what is in urban areas. What species are living here? Are there potentially invasive species? Have we lost biodiversity, or gained more? As urban areas continue to increase, we need to understand how this impacts biodiversity and how we can best guide conservation.

The EcoFlora project was developed by the New York Botanical Garden (NYBG). The project launched in 2016 and has seen great success. NYBG, in collaboration with four gardens across the country (including Desert Botanical Garden, Denver Botanic Gardens, Chicago Botanic Garden and Marie Selby Botanical Gardens), received a National Leadership Grant from the Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS) to scale up the EcoFlora project. The Metro Phoenix EcoFlora project is also in collaboration with the Central Arizona Conservation Alliance (CAZCA).


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