Research Projects


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Solving global challenges one day at a time - The UA Campus Arboretum is built upon the historical priorities of the Land Grant Institution to encourage land stewardship. Today we continue our commitment to research which promotes sustainable land management and conservation of plant biodiversity and natural resources. View this short video to better understand how we are living the Land Grant Mission by extending research and education to communities across Arizona and beyond!







One of the services provided by the UA Campus Arboretum is to provide germplasm for the community. Occassionally, the germplasm is in the form of seeds (when they're available on the tree - we don't keep a seed bank) or fresh plant samples (leaves, roots, or stem cuttings) for propagation or study. The process of orchestrating the collection requires impressive coordination between the person or group making the request, the collector (usually a student intern), the grounds services, and the Plant Science office staff. Fresh samples must be collected, packed in dry ice, and shipped the same day for overnight delivery. Further, where research is done using the samples, there is an added layer of interest to consider the value and impact of the arboretum collections. Here, we share a "sampling" of plant sampling stories for you! :)


The Campus Arboretum, in partnership with the Sonoran Desert Florilegium Program, has established a florilegium of the Joseph Wood Krutch Garden, the University of Arizona's most important historic garden, and an inspiring model of a sustainable urban landscape. 


What is a "florilegium" (floor-eh-LEE-gee-um)?

A collection of scientific illustrations documenting the plants in a special garden. 


Sounds old fashioned?

Despite advances in technology used to capture botanically significant details through photography and microscopy, scientific illustration retains great value as an effective educational resource simply because it encapsulates all important views and detail magnification in one small panel. Furthermore, botanical illustrations are masterfully created and exquisitely beautiful! As such, florilegia serve as important historical records, inspiring artistic expressions, and a useful scientific tool to record local and regional species diversity in perpetuity. Given the need for conservation and stewardship of plants in an increasingly urban world, this inspiring collection maintains the relevance of the ancient practice of florilegia.



Opuntia basiliaris by Chris Bondante

K-12 school students with help from researchers at the University of Arizona have published a paper in the American Journal of Botany that may help better climate models. Their work reveals that the shrinking of dried leaves, if unaccounted for, may make climate models less reliable. A summary of the article with mention of the UA Campus Arboretum can be found at:

Trees provide ecosystem services that sustain environmental and human health. Yet, despite their significant contributions, their value is difficult to define. In the Spring of 2012, students working for the Campus Arboretum completed an inventory of all trees on campus. Data collected was processed using  i-Tree software to calculate their total economic contributions. This data will not only establish priorities and direct more sustainable collections planning but will also provide a means to more effectively advocate for preservation of trees using quantitative data. For a short introduction to the project, see page 12-18 of the UA Climate Action Plan. Alternatively, you may read a short summary here or view the full report.

Asher Haug-Baltzell, an undergraduate in Plant Sciences, completed a reserach project for honors credit in PLS330 (Plant Propagation) in the Fall of 2011 to determine if seedling media could be optimized with the addition of composted worm casings to produce more vigorous plants resistant to transplant shock upon transfer to standard NFT hydroponics systems.

2000 trees lining the main streets intersecting campus were measured in this 2006 study to determine their enivronmental and economic contributions. Results will estimate the total contributions of the Campus Arboretum trees to the overall health of Tucson's urban forest. A summary of the results can be found in a  2008 memo and in the Fall 2008 Campus Arboretum newsletter.