Did you know that Arizona is home to the tallest cactus in the world? It’s the saguaro cactus, and its blossoms are our state flower. But that’s just one of the most recognizable plants in our great state… How many others can you identify?

Arizona’s widely varied ecosystems are home to thousands of plant and animal species, so it can be hard to keep track of all of them. But with help from a little technology, we can all become experts! Popular smartphone apps are now offering help in identifying everything from weeds to woodpeckers.

After observing local wildlife, try apps like Plant-O-Matic or Lookup.Life to determine the species and learn more about it. If it’s birds you’re interested in, the National Audubon Society has a number of apps available, and Merlin Bird ID can help with answers to a few quick questions. To get really specific, check out HabiMap™ Arizona online to find out what lives in your neighborhood!

Of course, there are also low-tech options, including books on Arizona flora and fauna at your local library. Or, if you have a specific plant question, professionals from a local plant nursery could assist with identification.

It can be fun to explore your own backyard and it might even be useful. For instance, do you know what plants might be poisonous to pets? Or which “pests” might be beneficial to your garden? Do a little digging and you might find out.