river corridor surrounded by cottonwood trees
The Santa Cruz River feeds the roots of thirsty cottonwood trees.

NPS Photo / Hoffman

Native Plants and Natural Ecosystems

The boundaries of Tumacácori National Historical Park include many different habitat types which support a wide diversity of plant life.

Chief among the native trees around the mission grounds and most noticeable to the average visitor is the mesquite, which holds great value in the ecosystem and in native culture.

pink and white carnation-like flower with background of green leaves
The pomegranate held symbolic significance for Catholicism, as well as being a practical nutrient-rich food item.

NPS Photo

Heritage Plants and Cultivated Landscapes

Although the priests' primary goal of the mission system was to convert native souls to Catholicism, the success or failure of each mission depended heavily on its ability to sustain its own food supply. Fields of winter wheat, livestock grazing areas, orchards, and gardens were essential to a successful missionization of the New World. Afterall, of what use was an empire that still existed as a "wilderness?"

To that end, large scale agricultural operations were some of the first to mark the turning point between the village of Tumacácori and the mission of Tumacácori.

Today, you can see the restored orchard planted with heritage fruit trees as well as a representative courtyard garden planted with herbs, fruit trees, succulents, and ornamental species.


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Last updated: December 30, 2017

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Mailing Address:

P.O. Box 8067
Tumacacori, AZ 85640


(520) 377-5060

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