Meeting Programs

Evening meetings of the Gila Native Plant Society will be held throughout the fall, winter and spring on the third Friday of the month  at 7.00 p.m. in Harlan Hall, second floor, Room 219, corner of Alabama and 12th Streets, on the Western New Mexico University campus. Free and open to the public. Refreshments following the program.

Friday, April 19 – I Bought Native Plants. Now What?

This month’s meeting will feature a presentation by Hanna Blood entitled “I Bought Native Plants. Now What?” Hanna will be covering some basics of native plant selection and cultivation for people who want their garden to grow! If you just acquired native plants through our annual plant sale or elsewhere, here’s your chance to find out how best to plant, water and feed them.

Hanna Blood ventured into the Sonoran Desert 25 years ago and knew her fate was to be a life of growing plants. She has worked in commercial and native plant propagation throughout the Southwest and Montana. On the Colorado Plateau she held the position of horticulturist and collection manager for the Arboretum at Flagstaff. In the Gila river valley of New Mexico, she studied herbal medicine and farmed.  She now lives in Silver City, where you can find her selling plants at the Farmer’s Market, leading plant field trips for GNPS and working on restoration projects and native grain research.

Friday, May 17 – Mesquite: Tree of Life

The meeting in May will feature a presentation by Richard Felger entitled “Mesquite: Tree of Life”. Richard evokes the presence of mesquite through the ages: “A mesquite seedling sends a deep root down through a ground sloth pie or maybe it was an elephant and only 13,000 years ago. It is the end of the 19th century and the Apaches have been driven out and nobody knows how good mesquite tastes, or how to prepare it. It is 2040 and hot and dry and half the world is growing mesquite and big sacaton. Let’s talk about mesquite past, present, and future.”

Richard Felger: I was first a marine biologist and got into cactus, orchids, and lizards after eight years of age. It is always a privilege to study and write about new aridland food crops, botany, and ethnobiology—here in the upper Gila Region, the Sonoran Desert, and deserts worldwide. My wife Silke Schneider and I live in Silver City with many plants and animals. Check out his website:

May will be our last evening meeting until September, but field trips are starting up. Check the field trip page under Events.

Our March 15th meeting featured a presentation by Ronald Parry entitled “Moths of the Gila National Forest and Vicinity.” As Ron explained, the Lepidoptera is an order of insects that includes both butterflies and moths. Many people are familiar with butterflies because of their beauty and their presence during daylight hours. Unlike butterflies, moths are little appreciated since they are largely nocturnal. This is unfortunate since many moths are beautiful and their biology is equally interesting. Most of the larger moths found within the Gila region fall into one of eight moth families. The talk summarized the characteristics of moths in each of these families and provide examples of local moths from each group.

Presenter Ron Parry was born and raised in Southern California. Exposure to the beauty and biodiversity of the California landscape in his youth converted him into a naturalist at a young age. The gift of a chemistry set from his parents one Christmas morning proved to be a turning point in his life and eventually led him to a B.S. in Chemistry from Occidental College and a Ph.D. in Organic Chemistry from Brandeis University. After graduating from Brandeis, he did two years of postdoctoral research in plant biochemistry in the United Kingdom, followed by a year of postdoctoral work at Stanford University. He returned to Brandeis as an Assistant Professor of Chemistry in 1971 and moved to Rice University in 1978.  His research focused on the biochemistry associated with the formation of the complex toxins, antibiotics, and defense compounds produced by plants, microorganisms and fungi.

After retirement in 2012, he returned to his interests in natural history and began to study moths. Among other things, he serves as a yearly volunteer at the La Selva Research Station helping Prof. Lee Dyer of the University of Nevada with his project on caterpillars and climate change. More information on the moths of the Gila region can be found at Ron’s website:

Male Ectypia clio

For those interested in following up on this fascinating topic, Ron also suggested the following websites and books:



Basic Techniques for Observing and Studying Moths and Butterflies by

William D. Winter, Jr., 2000  (Available from The Lepidopterists


Moths of Western North America by Jerry A. Powell and Paul A. Opler,

University of California Press, 2009.