/ Last Modified November 19, 2013

Tucson Groups Advocate for Native, Heirloom Plants

"We are not only interested in preserving seeds...but...the traditions...food culture in our Southwest."

Gardeners in the Sonoran desert often realize that plants, which are said to grow well in full sun, are not really ideal in places, such as Phoenix, Tucson and other similar types of heat.

However, experts say there are many options to be considered for hot and dry conditions, including using native plants or those that come from similar regions.

When speaking about native plants, one needs to qualify the region of that plant, said Michael Charmberland, the horticulture director at Tucson Botanical Gardens, which displays native and non-native plants.

"You talk about plants native to the state of Arizona or plants native to the Sonoran desert, which would be just part of Arizona but also part of California and part of Mexico as well," he explained. "Or we can talk about plants that are native just to the Tucson valley."

Tucson-based Native Seeds/SEARCH specializes in protecting and promoting these native and heirloom species.

"We are not only interested in preserving the seeds themselves but we want to preserve the traditions, the food culture in our region of the Southwest," said Melissa Kruse-Peeples, collections manager at Native Seeds/SEARCH.

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