Invasive Weeds of the Sonoran Desert

On March 7th, 2018 one hundred students from Mount Elden Middle School’s Apex program traveled south from Flagstaff to meet up with me at the Picketpost Trailhead on the Arizona Trail near Superior, Arizona. This long distance outing has become an annual tradition and a great way to introduce the students of Flagstaff to the ecosystem of the southern part of our state.


While part of the group toured nearby Boyce Thompson Arboretum, the rest of the crew played a game called “Outwit, Outplant, Outlast” in which they play the part of either native or invasive weeds and see what happens with each passing year. As time goes on invasives take more and more of the sun and water resources that the native plants need. Within a few short years…yikes! No more native plants!


After seeing the damage invasives can do and learning to identify a few common invasives to the Sonoran Desert, the students conducted a brief biotic inventory of a small transect of the area we were visiting to see the proportion of native to invasive plants that were near the trailhead.  


After the activities, students had an opportunity to hike about a mile round trip on the AZT. It was a lovely way to spend a day learning about an ecosystem and trail access point that is so very different from what we typically see at home.

Thanks to Resolution Copper for their support of this outing!