Boyce Thompson Arboretum State Park

The Boyce Thompson Arboretum State Park is located just east of Phoenix in Arizona and is approximately 2400 ft. in elevation. A one-of-a-kind facility, it was created in the 20's to educate people about arid plants and now encompasses several hundred acres. Demonstration gardens representing local and world-wide arid species can be found here, along with trails, a visitor center and educational facilities. The Arboretum is managed by the non-profit Boyce Thompson Southwestern Arboretum, the University of Arizona and Arizona State Parks.

The Arboretum includes a large lake, made as a storage reservoir for the facility. This lake provides a home for many birds and species of fish, including the rare Gila Topminnow and Desert Pupfish which were introduced there by Arizona Fish and Wildlife. 

Some of the areas contain introduced species but much of the grounds also contain native desert plants including Ocotillo, Mesquite, Desert Hackberry and Agaves. Part of the area is riparian and includes many tall trees.

The story about the creation of park is quite interesting - Col. William Boyce Thompson was a very successful mining engineer who moved into philanthropy and believed that he could help mankind through his efforts here and and in another facility in New York.

The Desert Legume Project is one of the great accomplishments of the park. They conserve seeds from thousands of species local and from around the world.

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Creosote Bush

Many animals make their burrows underneath creosote bushes, including Merriam's Kangaroo Rat and the federally threatened Desert Tortoise. The leaves and tiny seeds of this species are an important food source for rabbits, woodrats, mice, lizards and birds. The USFS has estimated that Creosote Bush covers 35 - 46 million acres in the southwest. A massive clonal colony of this plant was discovered in Lucerne Valley, CA.  Through radiocarbon dating it was placed at 11,700 years old, thus one of the oldest living things on earth and dubbed King Clone.

Creosote Bush shrub in the desert
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