about us
Contact Us

Arizona Native Plant Society
Box 41206, Sun Station
Tucson, AZ 85717




Cochise Chapter President
(Jan 2008)

Co-Editor Plant Press
(April 2013)

Doug Ripley

Doug Ripley studied botany and plant ecology at San Francisco and Oregon State Universities. Doug continued his interest in biology and natural resources conservation during a 35 year career with the U.S. Air Force where he taught biology and botany at the Air Force Academy before spending 19 years at Air Force Headquarters in the Pentagon managing the natural resources programs on Air Force lands. Shortly after retiring to Tucson with his wife Arlene, Doug joined AZNPS, becoming President of the Tucson Chapter (2008) and then the Cochise Chapter (2011). He now works part-time as an environmental consultant.

State Vice-President
(Open Position)


Recording Secretary

(Open Position)




State Treasurer
(March 2013)

Tucson Chapter Treasurer

(September 2009)

Diane Kelly

Diane Kelly grew up in Chicago and lived in the East until a visit to Tucson in 1994.  Like many members, it was a pivotal visit - love at first sight! - and she and her husband quit jobs and moved to Tucson in 1995.  Diane was inspired by Nancy “Z” Zierenberg and joined the Society in 1999.  She is an accountant who loves plants and became Treasurer of the Tucson Chapter in 2009 when she retired and became Treasurer of the Society in 2013. 


Education, Outreach and Conservation Committee Chair

Wendy Hodgson

Wendy Hodgson has been with the Desert Botanical Garden for 35 years, currently as the Curator of the Herbarium and a Research Botanist. She has lived in the desert for 40 years, having come to Arizona from upstate New York in 1969.  Her areas of interest include southwest US and northern Mexico floristics and taxonomy of Southwest plants. Current projects include Agave and Yucca work, including the study of pre-Columbian agave cultivars and studying and documenting plants within Grand Canyon National Park. She is also helping coordinate the Cactus family treatment for Intermountain Flora and Arizona Cactaceae publications. She is an avid plant collector, having collected nearly 25,000 herbarium specimens and over 1000 living collections.


Yuma Chapter President

(February 2011)

Valerie Morrill

Valerie Morrill is a lifelong Yuman with an abiding love of deserts and the hardy plants and animals that make a living there. She is a retired federal biologist currently working part-time as an environmental consultant.  In addition to the Arizona Native Plant Society she serves on the board of the Yuma Conservation Garden and as Region IV director for the Arizona Wildlife Federation. Valerie invites anyone with an interest in the Yuma Chapter activities to contact her for more information.


Phoenix Chapter President
(February 2011)

Mike Plagens



Tucson Chapter President

(January 2013)


Plant Press

Anthony Baniaga

Anthony Baniaga was born in San Diego, California and has lived in the beautiful Sonoran Desert around Tucson since 2012. He received his BS in Biology with a concentration in Ecology at Cal Poly San Luis Obispo in 2010 under the mentorship of Dr. David J. Keil. After graduation Anthony worked as a seasonal field botanist for several years with the US Forest Service in Northeastern California and US Geological Survey in Southern California. Currently he is pursuing his doctorate at the University of Arizona in the Dept. of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology under the mentorship of Dr. Michael S. Barker, where he works on systematics, genome evolution, and local adaptation following hybridization and polyploidy in the resurrection-fern Selaginella.

(February 2009)

Andrew Salywon   

Andrew Salywon is Assistant Herbarium Curator at the Desert Botanical Garden. His research interests are in endemic, rare and endangered plants in Arizona and the Sonoran Desert, floristics, ethnobotany, plant natural products and systematics using both traditional and molecular data. He received his BS degree from the UA in Ecology and Evolutionary Biology and his Ph.D. from Arizona State University in Plant Biology in 2003.
He has contributed family taxonomic treatments for the Vascular Plants of Arizona Project and has been a co-organizer of the Arizona Botany Meetings since its inception.

January 2016)

Cass Blodgett

Cass Blodgett grew up in Oregon but has been in Arizona since 1985. He graduated ASU in 1988 with an EE degree and has been a computer design engineer in Phoenix for the last 24 years. Cass is an avid gardener (natives only). Besides AZNPS, Cass volunteers with the Boyce Thompson Arboretum where he leads botany walks and occasional native plant talks. He works with the Grand Canyon Trust and with PAPAZ on various projects.


Prescott Chapter President
(February 2011)

Sue Smith

Sue Smith was introduced to the natural world as a child along a wooded creek on a farm in Nebraska.   Her interest in plants has been a lifelong hobby.   She has retired from her career in computer science and is pursuing her passion for plants in her retirement.  She loves gardening, hiking, and the photography and study of plants. She was a member of the CA Native Plant Society for over 10 years and is currently a member of AZNPS, a master gardener, and a volunteer at the Highlands Center for Natural History.  She is working on two plant projects, the Plant Atlas Project of Arizona (PAPAZ) and the development of the Yavapai County Native and Naturalized Plant website.

The Plant Press Layout Editor
(August 2005)

Julie St. John


Although Julie St. John's interest in plants began in her childhood backyard in Ohio, she fully adopted the plants of the Sky Islands as her native flora when she transplanted herself to Tucson in 1990. Inspired by the landscape of her adopted home, she soon began contributing her communication skills to protect wildlife, conserve habitat and restore ecological health to the landscape. She now serves as a freelance designer/editor for some of the finest nonprofit conservation organizations in the Desert Southwest, including the Arizona Native Plant Society.

Happenings Editor

Shelly Silva grew up in sunny southern California. In 1990, Shelley and her family moved Flagstaff, where she taught writing at Northern Arizona University and Coconino Community College. In 2009, she decided pursue a master’s degree in biology. To that end, she wrote a flora of a state park in southwest Colorado and conducted research on a rare, endemic species found on the Mancos Shale barrens. Shelley and her husband Tony currently divide their time between the pine forests of northern Arizona and the Seussian deserts of Baja California Sur.

Administrative Assistant
(January 2016)

Patricia Sanchez


Pat Sanchez grew up camping and hiking in Arizona and throughout the West.  She is a graduate of Arizona State and University of Arizona;; now retired from teaching.  She enjoys volunteering with a docent group in Tucson to take art into elementary school classrooms, and to guide students through museum field trips. Sketching, watercolor painting and gardening are some of her favorite pastimes.


Cass Blodgett



Brief History of AZNPS

Interest in starting an Arizona Native Plant Society spawned an organizing meeting in Fall 1976. The dozen people who met to create our state group were all professionals in plant-related fields or worked for a related governmental agency.  Because of the diversity of interest in arid landscaping, the founders agreed that the new society would focus not only on Arizona’s native plants, but also on xeric-adapted plants from other areas and their growth in our landscapes.
The second meeting established goals for the new society. These included a society publication, a speakers bureau, school programs, the promotion of Arizona rare plant studies and a journal for publishing such studies, and involvement with public policy decision-making regarding Arizona’s native plants, including salvage and programs encouraging use of xeric-adapted plants in landscaping.
To promote the society’s educational and outreach goals, an Urban Landscape Committee was tasked with developing materials about the use of native and other arid-adapted plants in local landscaping. A series of pocket guides aimed at homeowners was developed at a price low enough to promote wide usage.
A 1998 membership survey on the direction of the Society and program emphasis indicated that most members wanted more focus on Arizona native plants, leaving the promotion of non-native arid-adapted plants to nurseries. The mission statement was subsequently altered to reflect the Society’s change in goals.
Currently, AZNPS has six chapters, based in Flagstaff, Phoenix, Prescott, Tucson, Sierra Vista and Yuma. Happenings, a newsletter about chapter activities, comes out quarterly. Our state journal, The Plant Press, is published twice a year and contains articles about native plant research, publications and other related articles. The latest editions of both can be found on our website.
Through the years, the dedicated members of the society have worked to strengthen native plant protection laws, enriched the knowledge of Arizona’s native plants, and contributed countless volunteer hours to public education about the value of using native plants in the landscape, water conservation, and habitat protection. Valuable research has also been contributed on non- native invasive species and habitat restoration. The volunteer efforts of the Sonoran Desert Weedwackers, an outgrowth of the Tucson Chapter, have protected desert park areas since 2000 and stimulated others to join invasive species removal efforts.
Our programs are open to the public and are generally free.  If you are interested in becoming an AZNPS member, click here for a membership brochure. You can also become a member online. Please join us in working to preserve Arizona’s native plants and to increase knowledge and appreciation of them. Much of our flora is quite unique and we are working to ensure the native diversity is around for future generations.