NAZ Flora: A Photographic, Annotated Catalog of Northern Arizona Vascular Plants, published by Mindbird Maps & Books

Introduction

The ultimate goal of this website is to photographically document every taxon of wild plant in northern Arizona.  A single photo of each taxon (species, subspecies, variety or significant form) is not enough.  The idea is to publish here online at least several images of each, showing not only the plant at its showiest, but also all features at different stages of its life, including seedlings, foliage, flowers (if any), fruit, seeds, and dry stalks, as well as its habitat.  Further, the goal is for all images to be annotated with specific location and date.  The intent is to create a photographic herbarium with broader appeal than an actual herbarium of pressed specimens (the latter a kind of plant morgue).

While I do hope to eventually develop additional features to the site, such as providing easily browsed thumbnail images arranged in categories more useful to laypersons (e.g. trees and shrubs, wildflowers by flower color, etc.), identification and cataloging of the plants is its purpose.   It is not a horticultural reference.  The primary target audience is anyone who wants to learn more about the appearance and distribution of northern Arizona wild plants.  I expect it will be a minimum twenty year project.  There are, after all, over 2500 taxa in about 120 families within the study area—and as I have had limited outside funding and scarce time and income of my own to contribute.

The boundaries of northern Arizona for purposes of this catalog are all five northern Arizona counties: Mohave, Coconino, Yavapai, Navajo, and Apache—plus that portion of Gila County north of the Salt and Black rivers (to give it a more natural boundary).  Plants known from adjacent similar habitats in California, Nevada, Utah, and New Mexico, but not yet reported from Arizona may also be included.  Not coincidentally, this coverage is similar to W.B. McDougall's Seed Plants of Northern Arizona (he used the five northern Arizona counties only).  McDougall's list forms the basis of the present work, though names have been updated, spellings corrected, and additional species reported in other works are being added.  Should the writer, any correspondent, or any contributing photographer find species not previously known from northern Arizona, that addition will be reported.

Because of its arrangement by scientific name, this work as it now stands is most useful to the intermediate to advanced amateur or professional botanist.  The collection of photos, though, should be of interest to plant lovers of all skill levels, and an image index is provided to make the catalog easier to browse for users who have no idea what family a given plant belongs to.

Beginners are hereby warned to avoid attempting to identify a plant solely by picture matching.  This is a legitimate means, but too often the beginner is unable to distinguish the superficial from the diagnostic.  He or she may, for example, conclude that a yellow flower is such and such species simply because the flower looks a lot like an image in the catalog—not realizing that the leaves may be entirely different, the stems may lack or possess hairs, that the blooming period is wrong, that the habitat is quite different.

Conversely, she or he might rule out applying the name of one particular species because of a lack of understanding of the ways form can vary within a species.  The same species growing in a moist shady area may look quite different when growing in a sunnier, drier area.  A plant exposed to cold winds often looks quite different from its fellows in more protected locations.  The same individual plant can look markedly different at different times of year.  Leaves on different parts of the same plant can look quite different.  And some species are just genetically quite variable.

This is why as many images showing different aspects of the same species will be shown in this work as is practical.  And with the web, it is more practical to do so than in any book—since this site should eventually be the equivalent of a 10,000 page book.  I will eventually also add identification notes to the image pages, as well.

I am actively photographing plants for addition to the website, much faster, in fact, than I have time to add them at present.  At least 250 species are on the site now, with hundreds of additional images of dozens of species waiting to be added.

Once most of the images I have on hand are added, and should I have my work life so arranged that I have more of that precious commodity, spare time, I will begin seeking donations of images from other photographers.  I will also be adding additional taxa from sources other than McDougall, as indeed I already have.

Sponsorship

This site is currently sponsored by the writer's online book and map shop in Kingman, Arizona: Mindbird Maps & Books.  Since this is a very small, financially constrained business for which any expense is a burden, I am seeking outside funding to help pay for the costs, and especially to help compensate me for the time spent.  (At the beginning of 2003, I did receive support from the Arizona Native Plant Society in an amount which covered the first year's film and web-hosting expenses.)  I will not be cluttering up the pages with extensive advertising, but would welcome sponsorship by individuals, institutions, and small businesses and gladly acknowledge your contribution on the Home and Contributors pages.  Contact me if interested.  Of course, your purchases from Mindbird Maps & Books will help this project go forward as well.

—Lee Dittmann


 
Author Lee Dittmann photographing plants at Grand Canyon National Park
The author photographing plants at Grand Canyon National Park.

 

This page last updated 16 April 2009.

Northern Arizona Flora
Ferns and Fern Allies Gymnosperms Angiosperms: Dicots Angiosperms: Monocots
Introduction Contributors Glossary References
A work in progress published by Mindbird Maps & Books.
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