Meeting Location: DBG – Dorrance Hall
Meeting Time: 2:00 p.m.

The monthly meetings will include:

  • Announcements of upcoming meetings and events
  • Club news
  • a Silent Plant Auction
  • a monthly presentation

Members frequently bring in cuttings to share on the free plant table.

We meet at 2:00 pm the last Sunday of most months at the Desert Botanical Garden, 1201 North Galvin Parkway, Phoenix, Arizona. The general meeting begins at 2 pm but you can come early to socialize and peruse the Silent Auction plants. Here is a map of the Garden.

Our Board meets monthly to discuss CACSS business; all members are welcome to attend Board meetings.

This month’s presenter: Wendy Hodgson


Wendy Hodgson is herbarium curator emeritus and senior research botanist at the Desert Botanical Garden. She has personally collected some 32,000 of the DBG herbarium’s 89,000 specimens. Initially hired as an illustrator, Wendy first came to the DBG in 1974, with a ASU bachelor’s degree in wildlife biology. Early in her career at the DBG Wendy was encouraged to go out into the field and collect plants for the herbarium. These adventures led to her pursuing and receiving a master’s degree in botany in 1982. Presently she is also an adjunct professor of conservation biology at ASU and has authored “Food Plants of the Sonoran Desert” (2001, University of Arizona Press) which won a Klinger Book Award given by the Society of Economic Botany. More recently in conjunction with fellow curator and researcher Andrew Salywon, she has been instrumental in discovering several new species of domesticated agaves in Arizona cultivated by early Native American cultures.

Presentation Title:  Pre-Columbian Agaves in the Southwestern United States: Discovering Lost Crops among the Hohokam and other Arizona Cultures

Wendy C. Hodgson and Andrew  Salywon

Researchers have long recognized the importance of agaves to Mesoamerica and its cultures, the plants providing food, fiber and beverage. However, their significance to these cultures has overshadowed and distorted the plants’ role for indigenous peoples north of the U.S. – Mexico border. Pre-Columbian farmers grew no less than six and possibly as many as eight or more domesticated agaves in Arizona dating to at least A.D. 600. Because of their longevity and primarily asexual reproduction, relict agave clones have persisted in the landscape to the present, providing an opportunity to study pre-Columbian nutrition, trade, migration and agricultural practices. Additionally, the remnant clones present a rare opportunity to examine domesticates virtually unchanged since they were last cultivated within a prehistoric cultural context. DNA sequence data, in addition to plant morphology, suggests that at least three may have originated in Arizona, suggesting this state as a secondary center of domestication. These discoveries underscore the necessity of viewing landscapes and some plant species from a cultural, rather than “natural,” perspective that may help discern potential cryptic species veiled by traditional taxonomic treatments. Understanding these plants and their ecological/cultural roles requires interdisciplinary collaboration between botanists and archaeologists.