Edible and Medicinal Plants Tour

Boyce Thompson Arboretum State Park

Sunday, July 28, 2019   8 a.m.

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Did wind-blown pollen from jojoba shrubs prompt you to reach for the anti-histamines last month? Spring flowers on these ubiquitous shrubs should produce a crop of seeds during mid-Summer; if your only familiarity with jojoba is from skin lotion, be here Saturday afternoon to learn a few more uses for these wax-packed seeds. Our guide? World-traveler and herbal gourmand Mike Hills. You never know just what you might be treated to on a walk with Mike; he's been known to share mesquite-flour muffins with his tour group, or toasted jojoba seeds. A few years back Mike organized a honeybee lecture followed by a honey tasting with a dozen desert varieties. On another occasion he served South African 'bush tea' derived from the native Buchu and Roibos (pronounced Rye-Bosh) plants.

Mike's a past president of the Arizona Herb Association, a large gardening club dedicated to growing and using herbs in our Sonoran Desert. He's a graduate of the University of Arizona, College of Agriculture, and has gardened in Arizona since 1968. His current garden includes native herb plants with traditional and current uses. Growing herbs helps to balance Mike's career in the turfgrass seed industry, where his company works with the golf and sports turf around the world. Mike likes to cook (and eat!) and participates frequently in the culinary activities of the Arizona Herb Association. Many of the interesting plants you'll see and learn about along the Curandero Trail have been used historically as food, traditional medicine, and other uses by the native peoples of the Sonoran Desert in both the U.S. and Mexico.

NOTE: please be aware that this tour explores our Curandero Trail, which has steep sections that are not suitable for visitors who use wheelchairs or walkers.