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Bean Trees provide a reliable protein and super-nutrition source in the form of edible seeds and pods.

Beautiful Beneficial Bean Tree Intro

Mesquite (edible pods)

Desert Ironwood (edible seeds)

Palo Verde (edible seeds)                           

bright magenta cholla cactus flowers and buds with lush Spring desert background

Cactus thrive in southwest deserts due to drought and heat-tolerant strategies. These special plants also provide abundant foods with multiple health benefits

Food-producing cactus include:

BarrelCholla,  Prickly pear, 

Pincushion,  Saguaro

shiny red ripe wolfberries on thorny branches with narrow green leaves

Berries like desert hackberry,  wolfberry, and graythorn ripen after seasonal rains and provide juicy, nutritious food for animals as well as humans. Edidble seeds from desert chia and desert plantain mature after Spring blooming.

bowl of dried medicinal creosote branches with leaves, flowers, and fluffy seedpods for tincture or salve-making

Greens and herbs like verdolagas, amaranth, desert chickweed, desert lavender, aloysia, cinchweed, chapparal, and devil's claw depend on seasonal rains to trigger growth and production of leaves, flowers, and seeds.                 

large old oak tree in a grassland setting

Sky Islands plants grow well above low desert valley floors, at elevations between ~3,000- 9,000' through various biomes such as grassland, pine-oak, and mixed conifer forests. Sky Island foods  include: acorns, mushrooms, elderberries, manzanita and juniper berries, pine nuts, greens, herbs.

close-up image of salsa with green palo verde seeds, calendula flower petals, desert herbs and seasonings

Eat Mesquite and More: A Cookbook for Sonoran Desert Foods & Living  is arranged by season, with 17 different desert foods and 189 recipes. More than a cookbook, it includes Meet the Ingredient, Plant Basics, and Stories to help folks learn about and fall in love with desert foods and the lands where they grow.

PHOTOS: hover over any photo to read detailed photo caption in regular text or alt text for visually impaired website users

RESOURCES: A Natural History of the Sonoran Desert; Plant Foods of the Sonoran Desert (Hodgson); Wild Desert Foods (Dahl), I'itoi's Garden; Arizona-Sonoran Desert Museum

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