Play the video above to see these stories on AZ Illustrated Nature: Monday, Sept. 16:

SHOWCASING GRASSLAND: Arizona is usually associated with rugged and rocky terrain, but the state also has rolling hills of lush grasslands that may seem more representative of places, such as Kansas and Oklahoma. Southeast of Tucson, near Elgin and Patagonia, the National Audubon Society operates the Appleton-Whittell Research Ranch, a protected grassland habitat and laboratory.

GRASSLAND RICH IN BIODIVERSITY: In the Southwestern United States, desert grasslands are some of the rarest ecosystems, as well as some of the richest in biodiversity. In southeastern Arizona, desert grasslands support a variety of endemic plants and animals.

THREATS TO GRASSLAND: Native grassland areas are among some of the most threatened habitats in the country. Arizona has its own habitats also facing threats. Grassland ecosystems have been changing significantly for more than 100 years; part because of humans, and part because of new plants growing in places they didn't previously belong to.

WEIRD PLANTS: Tucson Botanical Gardens Director of Horticulture and weird plant enthusiast Michael Chaimberland said Tucson's climate makes it an easy place to collect weird plants, such as succulents, which have fat, swollen stems. Also, the gardens host an annual weird plant sale.

AZ Illustrated Nature is produced by Tony Paniagua. Contact him at