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Bean Trees provide a reliable protein and super-nutrition source in the form of edible seeds and pods, thanks to winter and summer rains. Bean trees are the plants that make AZ Uplands and Plains of Sonora subdivisions of the Sonoran Desert unique and bountiful.

Learn more about bean trees here:

-Beautiful  Bountiful Beneficial Bean Trees


-Desert Ironwood 

-Palo Verde                          

bright magenta cholla cactus flowers and buds with lush Spring desert background

Cactus thrive in southwest deserts thanks to various drought and heat-tolerant strategies. These special plants also provide abundant and nutritious foods with multiple health benefits.

Learn more about cactus here:

-Cool Cacti Intro



-Prickly Pear page


-Pincushion page

shiny red ripe wolfberries on thorny branches with narrow green leaves

Desert Berries and Seeds ripen after seasonal rains and provide juicy, nutritious food for animals as well as humans.

Learn more here: Desert Berries and Seeds Intro, Wolfberry page, Hackberry page, and Desert Seeds page

bowl of dried medicinal creosote branches with leaves, flowers, and fluffy seedpods for tincture or salve-making

 Greens and herbs depend on seasonal rains to trigger growth of edible and medicinal leaves, flowers, and seeds. 

Learn more about desert greens and herbs here: Desert Greens and Herbs Intro, Desert Greens, Desert Herbs.

large old oak tree in a grassland setting

Sky Island plants grow above the low-desert floor at elevations between ~3,000- 9,000', through riparian zones and various biotic communities such as desert scrub, grassland, pine-oak, and mixed conifer forests.

Learn more about Sky Island foods: 

Sky Island Plants Intro

Nuts and Berries

Mushrooms, Greens, Herbs

Eat Mesquite and More: A Cookbook for Sonoran Desert Foods & Living  is arranged by season, with 17 different desert food ingredients and 189 recipes. More than a cookbook, it includes Meet the Ingredient, Basics, a Harvest Calendar, and many Stories to help folks learn about and fall in love with desert foods and the beautiful drylands places where they grow. See Store.

PHOTOS: hover over any photo to read detailed photo caption in regular text or alt text for visually impaired website users

RESOURCES: A Natural History of the Sonoran Desert; Plant Foods of the Sonoran Desert (Hodgson); Wild Desert Foods (Dahl), I'itoi's Garden; Arizona-Sonoran Desert Museum, Sonoran Desert Almanac (Hanson)

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