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.

June 2022 EcoQuest: Unfamiliar Pollinators

Join the June EcoQuest: Unfamiliar Pollinators WHAT TO OBSERVE: Let’s celebrate Pollinator Week, June 20-26! Pollinator Week is an annual event celebrated internationally in support of pollinator...

Counting Saguaros

Looking for a great family activity? Head outside in your neighborhood and help the Garden in its first-ever Saguaro Census. This all-ages project aims to better understand the health and adaptation...

Why Desert Botanical Garden is Studying Urban Saguaros

During the summer of 2020, the Phoenix metropolitan area recorded its hottest summer ever. Not being able to move, the effects of those record temperatures affected the most vulnerable: plants....

Saguaro Census

Desert Botanical garden launched its first-ever project documenting urban saguaros.  The Saguaro Census is part of a larger project led by the Garden’s New World Succulents Specialists Dr. Tania...

Care and Keeping of Saguaros

Explore three plants kids can grow with help from an adult family member. Growing vegetables is a simple way to introduce young children to gardening.

April 2022 EcoQuest: Imprudent Pruning

Join the April EcoQuest: Imprudent Pruning Find and map as many examples of improper pruning as possible. Be sure to use #imprudentpruning in the notes of your observation! This will help us sort...

March EcoQuest: Wildflower Wonders: Round 2

Join the march EcoQuest: wildflower wonders: round 2    Join the March EcoQuest: Wildflower Wonders: Round 2 Find and map as many wildflowers as possible. Wildflower season is a cherished event...

February EcoQuest: Alley Adventures

Candelilla (Euphorbia antisyphilitica) Join the february 2022 EcoQuest: alley adventures   Join the February EcoQuest: Alley AdventuresFor this EcoQuest, find and map the plants and wildlife...

Jan. 2022 EcoQuest: Hello Jojoba

Candelilla (Euphorbia antisyphilitica) Join the january EcoQuest: hello jojoba   For this EcoQuest, find and map as many jojoba (Simmondsia chinensis) plants as possible. Join the EcoQuest...

Praiseworthy Plants (December 2021)

Candelilla (Euphorbia antisyphilitica) Join the December EcoQuest: Praiseworthy Plants For this EcoQuest, find and map the plants that are close to you. For this EcoQuest, you will need to join to...

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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).

The Garden is currently deinstalling Chihuly in the Desert and there may be temporary closures to some areas of the Garden. We appreciate your patience and understanding.