Desert plants are a unique, hardy breed. Specialized to survive in a harsh environment, they take advantage of every moment to get what they need. Each variety has different ways to endure and even thrive.
Since we live in an area of limited rainfall, we use desert plants in our landscaping. No sense trying to use plants that will only shrivel up and die on you! The term for this is xeriscaping.
When you look around the Sonoran Desert, where we've lived, you'll see unusual plants. Compared to areas which get plenty of rainfall. The same is true for any of the other deserts of the Southwest.Such as the Chihuahuan Desert - where we live now, in Tombstone AZ. We'll show you around - introduce you to these plants!
If you already live in the Southwest, we'll get you a little more familiar with your flora neighbors. Maybe you can bring them into your own landscaping.
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Arizona Native Desert Plants
Look at what grows naturally here in the Arizona desert for success in arid landscaping. This natural use of low-water using plants can be very attractive when planned well. Plus they'll be easy to care for, and successful!
- Joshua Tree - Actually a
Yucca plant, with a tree-like look. Its home is in the Mojave Desert,
which occupies a small part of Eastern Arizona. Joshua Tree National
Park is located in California.
- Common Desert Trees - Particularly in the Sonoran Desert, varieties of trees give it personality.
- Palo Verde Trees - The Blue Palo Verde is the larger, the Foothill Palo Verde is smaller. Both have the characteristic green (verde) branches. Their yellow flowers fill the trees in spring. The Palo Verde is the Arizona State Tree.
- The Ironwood Tree - A sturdy, hard wood tree with purple flowers. It's specific to the Sonoran Desert.
- The Desert Willow - Not actually a true willow tree. It has longish narrow leaves that are sort of reminiscent of willow trees.
- The Chilean Mesquite - It's an introduced tree, native to Chile, Peru & Argentina. It's a popular tree along with the introduced Argentine Mesquite and native Arizona Desert Mesquite. Mesquites are great shady trees which grow well with little water.
- The Texas Ebony - A Chihuahuan Desert native, but grows well in other deserts, such as Arizona's Sonoran Desert. Creamy yellow flowers bloom from Spring all through Summer and into autumn. It's an ideal xeriscape tree.
- The Acacia Seligna - A native of hot, dry areas in Australia. Therefore it's an ideal tree for deserts in the U.S. It's easy to take care of, and stays green all year. Plus in the spring yellow flowers fill its branches.
- Chinese Elm Trees - Actually native to Asia, and as far north as Korea. But they're a tough tree and tolerate drought, love heat and sun. They survive well in poor soil conditions. So they thrive in the Arizona desert. They make a great shade tree!
- Palm Trees - Quite a few varieties, but there's only some suited for a desert environment. Such as those native to the desert.
- The Mexican Blue Palm - Found in Baja California.
- The Mediterranean Fan Palm - It comes from Africa and Mediterranean areas, and is used to a warm, drier climate.
- The Windmill Fan Palm / the Mexican Fan Palm - Both are good desert varieties.
- The California Fan Palm - The one that is native to Arizona. Take a trail to see its natural habitat: the Palm Canyon Trail. It's located in the Kofa National Wildlife Refuge.
- Fruit Trees - grown in Arizona, dependent more-so on the area - the climate zone in which one lives. Arizona has many climates. According to the University of Arizona Master Gardeners there's essentially 5 basic zones. Within these everything from Apple Trees to Lemon Trees can be grown!