Desert Bounty Exhibition

Desert Bounty is a collaborative Art and Science exhibition by students at Copper Mountain College. Drawings, paintings and prints have been created by Art students, and the accompanying descriptions are from research and documentation of Biology students. The selection of native desert plants is inspired by the landscape work of Jeffrey DeMorrow, Grounds Keeper at CMC, whose unique installations adorn the campus.

“The average person cannot imagine [themselves] staring at dirt for longer than the twenty seconds needed to pick up whatever object [they’ve] just dropped, but this class was not for the average person.”
― Hope Jahren, Lab Girl

student work by Haruyo Martelli

Haruyo Martelli, Yucca. Acrylic on canvas


Common Name: Yucca, Common Yucca, Adam’s Needle, Spanish Bayonet, Bear-Grass, Needle-Palm, Silk-Grass, Spoon-leaf Yucca.

Scientific Name: Yucca filamentosa.

Plant Family: Asparagaceae.

Description: The Yucca plant has bluish green leaves. There are white, thread like filaments in the leaf margins. The flowers grow up to 10 feet tall in the early summer.

Medicinal Use: Treatment for osteoarthritis, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, stomach disorders, diabetes, liver and gallbladder disorders. The root is taken and used as medicine.

Interesting Facts: Moth species like the Tegeticula intermedia pollinate the Yucca plant.

By Juliet Felicity Rose


Paperbag Bush

Scientific Name: Salazaria Mexicana

Plant Family: Lamiaceae

Description: Sparse deciduous foliage with white-purple flowers. Light pouch-like pods give the bush its name.

Interesting facts: These bushes occupy a variety of habitats in their range, including washes, gravelly or sandy slopes, shrubland, and woodland, often growing intermixed with other shrubs.

student artwork Billiet, Serena

Serena Billiet, Paperbag Bush, graphite and watercolor.

Student art work by Rachel Jenkins, Hedgehog on Bristol Board

Rachel Jenkins, Hedgehog Cactus, Pastel on Bristol Board.

Hedgehog Cactus

Scientific Name: Echinocereus englem

Plant Family: Cactaceae- Cactus family

Description: Cylindroid and many stemmed soft bodied cacti. They grow in clusters and typically stay low to the ground. They can have red, yellow, or brown flowers.

Medicinal use: The fruit is a good source of vitamin C and other antioxidants. The fruit can be mashed cooked or cut in half and eaten.

Interesting facts: There are around 70 species of this cactus.

By Wesley Harrower

Desert Marigold

Scientific Name: Baileya multiradiata

Plant Family: Asteraceae

Description: It grows in clusters of stems that can reach about 1-2 feet tall and 2 feet across. The yellow head of the flower can grow 2 inches in diameter.

Medicinal use: Used in wound healing, an alternative analgesic, anti-inflammatory, antispasmodic, astringent, bactericide, carminative, depurative, diuretic, emmenagogue, stomachic, styptic, and tonic. Part used: The flower and flower extract.

Interesting facts: Desert marigold are poisonous to goats and sheep, but not to cattle or horses.

By Dakota Reiss


student artwork by Rhodes, Collin.

Collin Rhodes, Desert Marigold, graphite sketch on paper.

Haruyo Martelli, Prickly Pear. Watercolor on paper.

Haruyo Martelli, Prickly Pear. Watercolor on paper.

Prickly Pear (Bunny Ears)

Scientific Name: Opuntia microdasys

Plant Family: In the family Cactaceae- Cactus family.

Description: A bushy perennial cactus with oval or round flat pads. They can be about 6 inches across. The pads appear in pairs like the ears of a rabbit. They can grow fruits that are 2 inches long with a red or purple color.

Medicinal use: Used as folk medicine for a burn wounds, helps with indigestion, and the fruit contains vitamin C. The cactus fruit is used to help with diet supplementation; it can be mashed or cooked to eat.

Interesting facts: Many Native American tribes used the pads to help thicken soups, and to eat as their green vegetable.

By Wesley Harrower


Scientific Name: Larrea tridentata.

Plant Family: Zygophyllaceae.

Description: Evergreen shrub that grows 1-3 meters high, has dark green shiny leaves and bright yellow flowers with 5 petals.

Medicinal use: Creosote is used to treat infections, influenza, diabetes, skin sores, arthritis, sinusitis, gout, anemia, fungal infections, and cancer. Chaparral tea which is made from the leaves of the creosote bush, is commonly used to treat gallbladder and kidney stones.

Interesting facts: Creosote has a unique smell of many compounds. Creosotes can live up to hundred years.

By Clarisa De Lloyd

student work Anon.

Student sketch. Creosote, line and texture study. Graphite on paper.

student artwork Billiet, Serena

Serena Billiet, Evening Primrose, Graphite on paper.

Desert Primrose

Scientific Name: Oenothera primiveris.

Plant Family: Onagraceae.

Description: Hairy annual herb that produces a dense rosette of leaves with wavy or crinkled edges. Flowers can be white, yellow, or pink. Grows to be 16-36 inches tall.

Medicinal Use: Leaves are used to treat wounds and bruises.

Place of Origin: Europe

By Silvonnah Escudero

Cholla Cactus

Scientific Name: Cylindropuntia fulgida.

Plant Family: Cactaceae.

Description: Most cholla cactus have orange or greenish-yellow flowers with a variety of colors. Stems and joints vary in width, length, shape, and color, as well as in the profusion of spines and glochids. Chollas may appear as ground creepers, shrubs or trees, varying in height from less than a foot to as much as 15 feet.

Medicinal use: Among the medicinal uses of tree cholla, dried stem pith was applied to earaches and thorn coverings were pounded into a paste used to treat boils.

Interesting facts: Most species bloom April through June, depending on local conditions.

By Theresa Fox

student artwork Mariah Cooper

Mariah Cooper, Cholla Cactus, ink and ink wash on paper.

photo by C. Allen

CMC campus work of Jeffery DeMorrow. Photo courtesy of Cathy Allen.

Prickly pear (Grizzly Bear)

Scientific Name: Opuntia polyacantha var. erinacea.

Plant Family: Cactaceae.

Description: Clump Forming Spiny Cactus. Short Spine with various colored flowers producing short spiny green fruit.

Medicinal use: Flesh and stems used to treat diarrhea, skin sores, wounds, and infections.

Interesting facts: Stems can be peeled and used for pink or red dyes, and can be used to make gum.

By Kehaulani Stoneburner

Barrel Cactus

Scientific Name: Echinocactus grusonii.

Plant Family: Cactaceae.

Description: Can be over 3 ft tall, fast growing, many can be found in the Mojave Desert.

Medicinal use: Used to prevent salivary gland swelling. The spines are used.

Interesting facts: Native Americans collected the Cactus’s fruit when there were extreme droughts.

By Mariah Greenwood

student work by Haruyo Martelli

Haruyo Martelli, Barrel Blooms, etching print on paper.

student artwork Jenkins, Rachel.

Rachel Jenkins. Beavertail Cactus, Acrylic on Bristol Board.

Beavertail Cactus

Scientific Name: Opuntia basilaris.

Plant Family: Cactaceae.

Description: The cactus has an average height of 1ft tall that can have up to hundreds of blue-gray spineless pads averaged at 4in long and wide with spines embedded in them. At the top of the pads a pink flower blooms in the spring and summer time.

Medicinal Use: Used to dress wounds. The pulp from the pads provided a wet salve for bruises, bites and sores. The pads were also cooked or steamed then eaten.

Interesting fact: Ripe flowers would produce large seeds that were ground into meal to make flour.

By Leah Howe

Saguaro Cactus

Scientific Name: Carnegiea gigantea.

Plant Family: Cactaceae.

Description: Ribbed and columnar, and has 5-6 branches at 16ft tall. Roots are shallow and wide-ranging. White, night-blooming flowers are on trunk and branches. Produces red fleshy fruits.

Medicinal use: Used as a medicine by the Pima Indians to encourage breast milk production after childbirth. Saguaro fruits are made into a gruel.

Interesting facts: Grows slowly at first, blooms for the first time when around 50-75 years old, and dies between 150-200 years old. Provides safe nesting areas for birds. Heals itself from wounds such as holes.

By Brooke States

Student artwork by Old, Michaela photo

Michaela Old. Saguaro Cactus, graphite and colored pencil on paper.

photo by Cathy Allen

CMC campus work by Jeffery DeMorrow. Photo courtesy of Cathy Allen


Scientific Name: Fouquieria splendens.

Plant Family: Fouquieriaceae.

Description: Large shrub with long cane-like unbranched spiny stems that grow from a short trunk. Grows small 2-inch leaves and bright red blooms.

Medicinal use: Bark is used to relieve menstrual symptoms and as an overall body tonic to energize.

Interesting facts: The flowers can be soaked in water overnight and used as a drink. Flowers can also be dried and used as tea.

By Ashley Hernández

student work by Antquan Milledge

Antquan Milledge, Cactus variety sketch, graphite on paper.

Student writings and artworks for the exhibition were provided by Science Professor, Dr. Anamika Basu, Art Professors Emily Silver and Cathy Allen, and in partnership with the NEA Big Read Morongo Grant Community Grant 2020. The concept for the exhibition was inspired by this year’s Big Read book selection, Lab Girl by Hope Jahren.

A program of the NEA Big Read Morongo Basin presented by Arts Connection in partnership with Copper Mountain College, students and faculty, and the Copper Mountain College Foundation.

The NEA Big Read aims to build community and inspire conversation through the joy of sharing a good book. To learn more about the Big Read visit:

The NEA Big Read is a program of the National Endowment for the Arts in partnership with Arts Midwest.