About the Project

We live in a unique and beautiful region not only of the United States, but globally. Recognized as one of the most biodiverse deserts of the world, the Sonoran Desert is a treasure in the Southwest. The Sonoran Seed Collaborative focuses on the native plants, the plants that make this region the special place it is. We work to protect and keep this heritage alive.

This project was started in 2018 by the Central Arizona Conservation Alliance, the Arizona Columbine Garden Club, Tovrea Carraro Society, Arizona Native Plant Society, and Desert Botanical Garden as a jumping off point to a regional network of local growers of native seeds and plants for conservation.

The Sonoran Seed Collaborative lives at Tovrea Castle at Carraro Heights, a historic site owned by the City of Phoenix, operated by Tovrea Carraro Society. This is where Arizona Columbine Garden Club volunteers are devoted to caring for and growing mother plants for seed.

Consulting for this project is Carianne Campbell from Strategic Habitat Enhancements, who has over 20 years of experience in natural resources documentation and planning throughout the southwestern U.S. and northwestern Mexico. Thank you also to Kara Barron and the staff at the Gila Watershed Partnership for her help with propagating plants and consulting on the project.

Below are the species you can find at the site. Each of these four species is uniquely important within desert ecosystems providing a multitude of benefits. Whether for pollinators, nectar, forage, or as early colonizers in disturbed areas, these plants are much more than just their beautiful blooms.


Native Plants at Tovrea Castle

Sweetbush (Bebbia juncea) is a perennial in the Asteracea (Sunflower family). Native to the Sonoran Desert, found in low elevation on rocky slopes and washes, it can grow up to 3 feet tall.

Chuckwallas are known to relish Sweetbush and is an important host plant for bees, numerous species of butterflies and other insects in the southwestern United States. Long-horn bees of the Eucerini tribe are important pollinators of several crops and wildflowers. Long-horn Bees specialize on the Asteraceae Family especially asters, daisies and sunflowers (Cosmos, Scabiosa, Coreopsis and Bidens). Learn more…


Desert Lavender (Hyptis or Condea emoryi) is a fragrant shrub in the Lamiaceae (mint family) and are commonly known as the bushmints. Desert Lavender is a medium to large perennial native to the deserts of southwestern United States, northwestern Mexico in Sonora and Baja California at elevations below 3,000 ft.

Desert Lavender prefers sandy or gravelly soils with good drainage, and full sun or part shade. It’s a pollinator favorite and can tolerate summer water up to 1x per month. Learn more…


Desert Marigold (Baileya multiradiata) is an annual or perennial native. This sun-loving wildflower native to the US desert southwest and northern Mexico is a clumping plant of silvery-green foliage which bears many tall, naked stems, each topped with a bright yellow marigold-like flower.

Attracts the specialized Desert Marigold Moth and many other pollinators, readily re-seeds itself if conditions are right. Learn more…


Desert Senna or Coves’ Cassia (Senna covesii) is a perennial in the Fabaceae (legume family) and are native to southwestern Nevada and Arizona, and northern Baja California in Mexico. It is found on desert plains and in sandy washes.

Another favorite for butterflies and moths, this plant serves as a larval food host for Sulphur butterflies, such as the Cloudless Sulphur (Phoebis sennae). Learn more…

Source: California Native Plant Society

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