About our logo

The University of Arizona logo features a flower of Cottsia gracilis (previously known as Janusia gracilis) superimposed upon a branching figure called a phylogeny. A phylogeny is a diagram used by scientists to represent evolutionary relationships among organisms. Plant systematics is the study of the evolutionary relationships of plants. Plant systematists describe and name plant species and publish plant classifications; their work informs our understanding of the origin and function of plant traits, the distribution and diversity of plant communities, and the conservation and use of plant species. Our logo symbolizes our mission to promote research and education about the the plants of Arizona and the Sonoran Desert Region.

The University of Herbarium logo was designed by UA Herbarium Director Shelley McMahon. The Cottsia gracilis illustration was prepared by UA Herbarium Curatorial Specialist Philip Jenkins. At right is the original illustration.

Cottsia gracilis is a vine found throughout the Sonoran Desert. Its delicate yellow flowers appear in the spring. As one of the northernmost members of the mainly tropical family Malpighiaceae, Janusia symbolizes the importance of the Sonoran Desert Region as a meeting place of the temperate zone and the tropics. Cottsia gracilis is restricted to Sonoran Desert Region and therefore emphasizes the uniqueness of the Sonoran Desert as the home of numerous species plants and animals found nowhere else on earth.

An earlier and perhaps better known name for Cottsia gracilis is Janusia gracilis, now reduced to synonymy (true Janusias are restricted to South America). Janusia is based upon the Roman god Janus, and alludes to the similarity between the symmetrical two- and three-parted fruits of Janusia and the typical depiction of Janus as two heads facing in opposite directions. Janus was the god of gates, doorways, beginnings and endings. He was believed to be capable of seeing both the past and the future.

The University of Arizona Herbarium serves both the past and the future. Our specimens are a priceless historical record of plants and people who study them. By protecting and providing access to this resource in perpetuity, we provide a gateway to greater appreciation and understanding of the the plants of Arizona and the Sonoran Desert Region.