Some sandy riverbeds in the Tucson area look almost like farm fields this month - cloaked with what a Pima County official called a "bumper crop" of monsoon-spawned vegetation.

One expanse of the Rillito riverbed near Craycroft Road sports lush green growth that's waist-high in places.

Another stretch of the riverbed west of Alvernon Way caught the eye of Wendy Burroughs, environmental education program manager for the county, with its "very lush look."

"I look out on what has become a field of datura," plants with large white flowers growing along the riverbed, Burroughs said. "Last year there were maybe 50 plants there. This year there are several hundred. It's a bumper crop for sure."


Many kinds of plants are joining in to create an uncommonly green scene in riverbeds and washes this month.

"We've had so much rain that it is definitely unusually green" in watercourses around Tucson, said Meg Quinn, an environmental educator with the county.

Quinn said plants you might see in watercourses include:

• Pigweed - a tall-growing plant in the amaranth family. Clumps of these plants growing together along a riverbed can look a bit like a small cornfield.

• Burro bush - a plant with many fine branches and leaves of irregular shape.

• Wildflowers including datura and caltrops, also known as summer poppies.

• Desert broom - a large bushy plant.


• Native and non-native grasses, including invasive buffelgrass.

did you know?

Tucson has received 5.62 inches of rain so far during this year's monsoon - defined as the period from June 15 to Sept. 30. The normal total rain for that period is 6.08 inches.

Source: National Weather Service

Contact reporter Doug Kreutz at or at 573-4192. On Twitter: @DouglasKreutz