Research_The Joseph Wood Krutch Florilegium Project

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


Here's what we did...

The project aimed to create botanical art that documents the plant Sonoran native plant species collected and now growing in the historic Krutch Garden collection.  The initial inventory of the garden identified 65 unique plant species. Each of these species have been illustrated by professional scientific illustrators and botanical artists recruited from The Sonoran Desert Florilegium Program and Southwest Society of Botanical Artists. Each artist worked with us to choose a species and, obtain guidance to ensure that each piece of artwork conforms to detailed specifications that ensure the uniformity, quality, scientific and aesthetic value of the collection. Artists each have a unique process, but all spend hundreds of hours studying herbarium and living specimens in the field and under the microscope, sketching. reading relevant botanical treatments, conferring with botanists, and laying out the botanical features on the plate. Along the way, artists consulted with each other, botanical experts, and the director of the Campus Arboretum to obtain feedback and, make revisions before submitting to the jury for review. The jury met several times each year, and those original works accepted into the florilegium are now accessioned into the UA Library Special Collections. Here, they are archived but available for loan or exhibit. Artists retain copyrights to the originals, but UA Special Collections and UA Campus Arboretum will be permitted the option to create digital copies of the illustrations for display on the Campus Arboretum and other educational websites as a virtual exhibit.




The Campus Arboretum was responsible for raising funds to purchase all commissioned artwork. Thanks to the generosity of Keith and Brenda Taylor funds to cover all costs associated with  artists’ commissions, framing, matting and initial exhibitions were provided. At their request, the collection has been named to honor our mutual friend and a primary project contributor, Matthew B. Johnson. Matt's was continuously involved in the project from the initial mapping of the garden in 2014, to his role as primary botanical consultant to the artists, and as a member of the florilegium jury through to the project completion in 2023! His astonishing knowledge of botany, is nearly matched by his generosity and grace. The arboretum is truly thankful for his support with this and so many other important projects. For more information on Matthew Johnson, Click Here.




To meet the artists contributing to the florilegium, Click Here

View The Florilegium Virtual Gallery here.

To support other initiatives like this, donate through our website. 


Project Background and Technical Details: