Arizona Floras and Floristic works

At the University of Arizona Herbarium we use many books for plant identification. Most of these books contain "keys" which are a series of comparative descriptions of plant characters one uses to find the best fitting description of the plant on hand. Some books also contain photos or line drawings, but the most rigorous and effective way to identify plants is with a text containing dichotomous keys.

Below is a list of books we find useful in the herbarium. This list covers only floras specific to Arizona or the Sonoran Desert. It is arranged in a general order, according to what we use most frequently.


Arizona Flora
Thomas H. Kearney, Robert H. Peebles, and collaborators
1951, with supplement, 1960
University of California Press

Published in two editions, the second including a supplement at the end of the book. The Arizona Flora remains the best comprehensive reference to Arizona plants. But it is now long out of date, with many changes in names, species circumscription, and new discoveries since its publication. A new flora for Arizona is in progress, but is far from finished. When keying plants in the Arizona Flora be sure to check the supplement for additions to the keys. Use this with Lehr's Catalogue of the Arizona Flora to check for name changes.

A Catalogue of the Arizona Flora
J. Harry Lehr
1978
Desert Botanical Garden

This volume is a checklist of names, with no keys or aids for plant identification. It works well with the 1960 Arizona Flora, documenting name changes and additions to the flora of Arizona.

A Catalogue of the Arizona Flora, Supplements I & II
Journal of the Arizona-Nevada Academy of Science Vols. 15(1), 17(1)
J. Harry Lehr and Donald J. Pinkava
1980, 1982

These supplement the 1978 volume by Lehr.

A New Flora for Arizona
Journal of the Arizona-Nevada Academy of Science Vols. 26(1), 27(2), 29(1), 30(2), 32(1)
Edited by Leslie R. Landrum, Charles T. Mason, Donald J. Pinkava, and John R. Reeder
1992-1999

A new flora for Arizona is in progress, the individual treatments are being published in the Journal of the Arizona-Nevada Academy of Sciences as they become available. Eventually the completed Flora will be published in one volume. For now, the Journal publications allow us to begin using the new treatments. Includes keys, distribution maps, and some line illustrations.

Sonoran Desert Plants, an Ecological Atlas
Raymond M. Turner, Janice E. Bowers, Tony L. Burgess
1995
The University of Arizona Press

Covers the Sonoran Desert region of Arizona, California, and Mexico. The focus is on trees, shrubs, and cacti. Herbs are not included. Distribution and elevation maps are provided for most species covered. Includes a few photos, but no keys.

Trees and Shrubs of the Southwestern Deserts
Lyman Benson, Robert A. Darrow
1981
University of Arizona Press

Covers trees, shrubs, and vines. Includes keys, distribution maps, and references to original descriptions. Out of print, but a reprinting by the UA Press is anticipated.

Vegetation and Flora of the Sonoran Desert
Forrest Shreeve, Ira L. Wiggins
1964
Stanford University Press

Issued in two volumes, each a sizeable book. Covers the Sonoran Desert region of Arizona, California, and Mexico. Includes keys, detailed species descriptions, and references to the original species publications.

Plants of Arizona
Anne Orth Epple
1995
Falcon Press

A picture book. Covers only a portion of the more photogenic plants, but is well illustrated with color photos, and is probably the most comprehensive of the photo books for Arizona. Includes species descriptions but no keys.

Flowers, Shrubs & Trees of the Southwest
Leslie P. Arnberger, Janice Emily Bowers, Natt. N. Dodge, Francis H. Elmore
1976, 1982, 1984, 1993
Southwest Parks and Monuments Association

Four separate volumes, often sold together as a boxed set. Well illustrated with line drawings and a few photos. Includes species descriptions but no keys.

An Illustrated Guide to Arizona Weeds
Kittie F. Parker
1972
University of Arizona Press

Covers the weedy elements of the flora, plus a few natives. Notable for excellent line drawings. Includes species descriptions but no keys.

Seed Plants of Northern Arizona
Walter B. McDougall
1973
The Museum of Northern Arizona

Covers plants of the five northern counties of Arizona. Includes keys.

Flowering Plants and Ferns of Arizona
Thomas H. Kearney and Robert H. Peebles and collaborators
1942
United States Government Printing Office

This older volume was largely supplanted by the 1951 Arizona Flora. This earlier edition may still be useful for referencing older names which may not appear elsewhere.

A Flora of Arizona and New Mexico
Ivar Tidestrom and Teresita Kittell
1941
The Catholic University of America Press

This older volume was largely supplanted by the 1951 Arizona Flora. This earlier book may still be useful for referencing older names which may not appear elsewhere.