Desert Plants / Desert Peoples
Ethnobotany of the Sonoran Desert
Join us for this exciting exploration of the useful plants of the Sonoran Desert. This program, funded by the Wallace Research Foundation, delves into the ethnobotany (how people use plants) of southern arizona, past and present. This program is available as an on-site offering here at the Gardens, or we can bring it into your classroom or event.
Sonoran Desert People
This tour includes a series of activities that help students understand the many ways people of the Sonoran Desert use native plants. The activities primarily focus on the uses of plants by the Tohono O’odham (Papago), the Yoeme (Yaqui), and the Hohokam (prehistoric ancestors of the Tohono O’odham). Tohono O’odham and Yoeme people not only lived in the Sonoran Desert long before European Settlers but they developed extensive uses of Sonoran Desert plants. Today, there are Yoeme and Tohono O’odham villages in and around Tucson and students of both cultures attend most area schools. Also, Tucson’s heritage is rich with Hispanic culture. Having lived in the Sonoran Desert for over a hundred years, many people of Hispanic descent also developed uses for native plants.
What is Ethnobotany?
Ethnobotany is the study of people’s use of plants. The word is derived from ethnology – the study of people, and botany – the study of plants. Regardless of where people live in the world, they have turned to their immediate environment for materials to aid in survival. Perhaps the most abundant and diverse materials in nearly every ecosystem around the world come from the plant kingdom. Thus, as long as people have been in existence, they have been using plants as food, fiber, shelter, tools, arts, and medicines. Ethnobotany examines and records these uses. Ethnobotany tends to focus on indigenous people’s use of native, uncultivated plants. However, the study does include all people’s uses of plants, including the use of some cultivated plants such as corn, cotton, and squash.
Pre-Visit Field Journal
Students make a field journal that will also serve as a nametag for the Tucson Botanical Gardens fieldtrip.
Note: The field journals should be made during the first part of the pre-tour activity. After the field journal has been made, students should complete the front page (name tag). The teacher will then teach an introductory lesson and students will complete page 1 in their field journals. Students should wear their field journals on their fieldtrip to the Tucson Botanical Gardens.Email this page to a friend