Legumes of Arizona Illustrations
Exhibited March 2012

       Legumes include some 18,000 species - a major division of the world's botany, and a family of plants including alfalfa, soybeans, edible peas and beans. They're used as landscape plants and for medicine, shade, timber, firewood and windbreaks.

       March, 2012 brings a chance to consider their role in art, with an exhibit of legume illustrations in the visitor center art gallery at Boyce Thompson Arboretum. The University of Arizona's Desert Legume Program is developing a botanical reference guide to Arizona members of the Fabaceae family: "Legumes of Arizona: An Illustrated Flora and Reference."
       Meet the artists at their gallery opening reception March 3, Saturday, from 3:30-4:30 p.m.
       Illustrations produced for the project are accurate scientific representations of plants, and also unique works of art, created by illustrators from Phoenix and Tucson. "Senna lindheimeriana" by Chris Bondante is shown at right; below and at left is an illustration of "Acacia salicina" by John Gerdes.

       In addition to completed drawings the month-long exhibit will include the illustrators' work-in-progress samples, showing various stages of production. Daily admission to the Arboretum of $9 for adults, $4.50 for ages 5-12 includes the gallery, and this exhibit remains on display through March 31 during daytime business hours from 8:00 am to 5:00 pm.

"This is a unique opportunity to view original illustrations before they are published, and learn about the scientific illustration process," said Kirsten Lake, a curator of the exhibit and Project Coordinator for Legumes of Arizona and the UA Herbarium in Tucson."

       When complete, the book will include descriptions of plants, distribution statements and distribution maps. What makes the project special is that we will also include information on ethnobotany, potential uses and cultivation. We want this book to serve as a reference for a broad audience, not just botanists. Cultivation information will allow for people to plan landscaping projects. Information on past and present uses can serve as a starting point for people who are exploring new uses.

      Illustrations are a key part of the book. They can be used as a tool for identification and they provide readers with a visual representation of unique characteristics of species. In order to provide the necessary detail for this type of illustration, students must carefully study the plant, often using microscopes to look for important detail. However, the drawings are not merely mechanical renderings of plant anatomy. They also represent unique works of art. An artist's unique style and perspective is reflected in their work. In addition to accuracy, artists also strive to show the beauty of the plant. This is reflected in the layout of stem, fruit, and flower, and the artists use of lines. Read more about Legumes of Arizona: An Illustrated Flora and Reference

        Lake said prints may be available for purchase. To inquire about prices or if you have questions about the project, please contact Kirsten Lake via email to klake@email.arizona.edu

Boyce Thompson Arboretum is located at Highway 60 milepost #223, just three miles west of the town of Superior - a drive of about one hour east of Phoenix or two hours from Tucson (take Oracle Road North to Highway 79 past Florence to Highway 60, then East for another 12 miles). Monthly exhibits may be seen at our Visitor Center gallery daily from 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. during March and April. Spring-Summer hours resume in September. The Arboretum is an Arizona State Park and daily admission must be paid to enter the Visitor Center where the gallery is found. Admission is $7.50 for adults and $3 for ages 5-12. Annual memberships at the Arboretum begin at $45, and include a year's access, guest passes for your friends and family, along with many other benefits. A membership may be purchased in the gift shop on the day of your visit.

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Paul Kinslow January, 2011

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