Desert Plants | Beautiful & Unique Desert Biome Species with Photos
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Desert plants have evolved to thrive specifically within desert biomes and are very beautiful and unique for this reason. Desert biomes make up approximately 20-30% the entire Earth!

To tackle tough conditions, desert plants have adapted physiologically and morphologically. These adaptations are what give desert plants their unique and beautiful characteristics that can’t be found anywhere else, making some of them a big tourist attraction. They also make great house plants because they’re inexpensive, colorful, low-maintenance, and drought-resistant.

Desert plants are also known as xerophytes (dry plants). They store water in their tissues, have small leaves, are quick to absorb water, and reduce their transpiration rate nearly to zero in extremely dry conditions. Some desert plants can go years without rainfall for these reasons.

There are many types of deserts on Earth. Different deserts have different species of desert plants because plants have evolved specifically to their specific type of desert environment for survival. This means desert plant species change depending on location and climate factors. Their techniques for survival will vary as well.

“Deserts are extremely dry environments that are home to well-adapted plants and animals. The main types of deserts include hot and dry deserts, semi-arid deserts, coastal deserts, and cold deserts.” – National Geographic

Below I describe 47 desert biome plants that are beautiful and unique:

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The ghost plant (Graptopetalum paraguayense) is a thick and fleshy, species of desert succulent plants and is commonly referred to as “Mother of the Pearl Plant”. It gets its name from its beautiful leaves that are whiteish green/grey color (Depending on temperature). The leaves are spirally arranged on the main stem. The flower blooms in spring and consists of five reddish petals making a star arrangement. The ghost plant is often used as an ornamental plant and is easily grown in gardens. Ghost plants are a native species found in Mexico. This plant grows to a maximum of 2 meters long.

Desert Plant - Ghost Plant (Graptopetalum paraguayense)
Ghost Plant | Photo From Here


The desert willow plant is a desert tree and ranges between 1.5 to 8 meters in length. The leaves of desert willow are linear and curved. The scientific name is Chilopsis linearis. It is a native species of the United States and Mexico. and blooms between May and September and usually three to four flowers are present on each florescence. The color of the flower is lavender to pink. Its fruit looks like a linear pod and contains a large number of winged seeds that help in seed dispersion. It establishes primarily at the edges of desert streams or drainages.

Desert Plants | Desert Willow
Desert Willow | Photo From Here


Also known as donkey’s tail, this plant belongs to the family Crassulaceae. The scientific name for this plant is Sedum morganianum.  It can be easily grown in the home and is easy to take care of because it doesn’t take much upkeep. This is a heat and drought tolerant desert plant so it does well is dry and sunny conditions. Its leaves are green, thick, and fleshy and fall off very easily. The Burro’s tail is a native species of Mexico and Honduras. It flowers in the summer and produces a beautiful reddish-pink flower.

Desert Plants | Burro's Tail
Burro’s Tail | Photo From Here


Saguaro cactus, or scientifically known as the Carnegiea gigantea is one of the tallest desert species which grows to 12 meters in height. This plant has a huge network of roots that exceeds 30 meters which have small hairs that allow it to collect water much more efficiently. The saguaro takes about 50 years to achieve its first 1-meter of height. It is a native species of Arizona. The life span of a saguaro is around 150 years and will grow its first arm (branch) after 75 years. They can store a large amount of rainwater and withstand droughts. They flower in April and the fruit ripens in June. Flowers are waxy and white, mostly open during the day and close at mid-day time.

Saguaro cacti in Saguaro National Park
Saguaro Cacti in Saguaro National Park | Photo From Here


The silver torch cactus (Cleistocactus strausii) is also known as wooly torch. It is mostly found in the mountains of Bolivia. They are greyish-green, long, erect, and slender and can grow to a height of 3 meters and 6 cm wide. These cacti are covered with many areoles. They can withstand extremely low temperatures up to -10°C and low oxygen levels without any damage. They grow a horizontal flower at the end of the summer seasons. The silver torch cactus can be propagated by using seedings or cuttings.

Desert Plants | Silver Torch Cactus (Cleistocactus straussii)
Silver Torch Cactus | Photo From Here


Desert ironwood (Olneya tesota) is a desert tree that belongs to the Fabaceae family (Peas, Beans). It is a native species of the south-western United States. Mature desert ironwoods are shiny, smooth, and have grey bark with bluish-green leaves. It is an evergreen plant species but when the temperature falls below 2°C their leaves will start falling off.

Bees and hummingbirds love the desert ironwood because of the sap produced from the trunk of the plant. Since the density of this tree is greater than water it tends to sink hence ‘ironwood’ in the name. The desert ironwood flowers in April and are multicolored but often pinkish, its petals are uniquely unequal in length. Its fruits are reddish-brown in color and are located in J shape seedpods.

Desert Plants | Desert Ironwood
Desert Ironwood Tree | Photo From Here


The baseball plant or golf ball plant is scientifically known as Euphorbia obesa. The name is fitting because it is baseball-shaped. The design of the plant is also unique in that it looks very similar to a sea urchin. They are small, around 6 to 15 cm in diameter. This desert plant has 8 vertical ribs which number increases with maturity. They have a tapering root which aids in the absorption of nutrients and water uptake efficiency from the soil.

A baseball plant is a perennial desert plant that can withstand drought without issue. Their flower is called a cyathium which is cup-shaped and greyish green in color. Usually, the first flowers bloom after 5 to 8 years. Its fruit consists of only 3 rounded seeds. When the fruit matures it explodes to disperse the seeds. This desert plant is native to Cape provinces in South Africa.

Desert Plants | Baseball Plant (Euphorbia obesa)
Baseball Plant | Photo From Here


Jackal food (Hydnora Africana) is a desert plant that is mostly found in semi-arid regions of Africa. Hydnora Africana is one of the strangest desert plants and also called jackal food. It is the only known angiosperm plant that doesn’t have leaves and stems. This is a parasitic plant that depends on hosts to live. These plants mostly grow underground, only their flowers emerge above ground. Their flowers smell like dung to attract beetles and other pollinators. When they capture insects, they store them for around 2 days, releases enzymes, and digest them. On the lower side of the flower, they have ovules that later form seeds.

Desert Plants | Jackal Food (Hydnora Africana)
Jackal Food | Photo From Here


Jumping cholla (Cylindropuntia fulgida) is also known as hanging chain cholla. This desert plant is native to Sonora and the Southwestern United States and is 4-meters in height. They grow long branches with changing chain fruits attached to them. At a younger age spines show yellow color but with increasing age, they change into grey. This plant has a  white and pink flower with fleshy fruit shaped like a pear. Because these plants can hold a large quantity of water, animals i.e. sheep rely on the juice and water present within the fruit of jumping cholla.

Desert Plants | Jumping Cholla
Jumping Cholla | Photo From Here


The Queen Victoria agave (Agave victoriae-reginae) is an interesting desert plant with unique geometry. It is round and is about 18 inches in diameter. This rare agave forms dark green foliage with white markings at the end of leaves.

At the end of each leaf, there is a small spine. The color of the flowers are creamy-white and are tinged with red or purple colors. These plants produce flowers at their upper half and strangely after producing flowers they will die. Queen Victoria agave is a native species of Coahuila and Mexico. This plant is extremely drought-resistant and prefers very well-drained soils.

Desert Plants | Queen Victoria Agave
Queen Victoria Agave | Photo From Here


This is a beautiful desert plant with a pattern that resembles zebra stripes. The shape of the plant is similar to the aloe vera plant. The zebra cactus is a succulent plant and is often used as an ornamental plant. It is native to Cape Town, South Africa. The scientific name of this cactus is Haworthia attenuate.

These plants are slow-growing and smaller in size. It does not have a problem withstanding a long drought season. The leaves of zebra cactus are thin and long and are not fibrous. They prefer sandy soils with high drainage surfaces. The flowers will bloom in November and December.

Desert Plants | Zebra Plant
Zebra Plant | Photo From Here


This plant has the scientific name Echinocactus grusonii and is a globe-shaped plant that is now endangered and rare. I’m not sure why but this plant is also called ‘mother-in-law’s cushion’. It has a height of around 3 feet. There is a difference between young and mature barrel cacti. Mature barrels have nearly 35 vertical rib cuttings. You’ll find yellow to white spines growing on barrels, they are long, strong, and slightly curved. It can take a long time for these plants for bloom, sometimes exceeding 20 years. During summer these plants show flowers at the crown. The golden barrel cacti can be used as ornamental plants and have a lifespan of approximately 50-100 years.

Desert Plants | Golden Barrel Cactus
Golden Barrel Cactus | Photo From Here


The bunny ear cactus (Opuntia microdasys) has no main stem and also lacks leaves. Instead, this plant consists of segments. New forming segments look red but with maturity, it changes to dark green. This plant gets its name by the bunny-ear shaped segments that it grows. These segments also have white spines that look somewhat like fur at a distance. This plant is native species of Mexico and Arizona.  It grows to about 2 to 3 feet in height.  Flowers always bloom from the terminal part of the segments. These flowers are creamy in color which changes to peach color with age.

Bunny Ear Cactus (Opuntia Microdasys)
Bunny Ear Cactus | Photo From Here


The foxtail agave (Agave attenuate) is a unique evergreen perennial plant. Due to its large curved inflorescence, this plant has been given many different names i.e. lions’ tail, foxtail, and swans’ neck. It is an ornamental plant that is native to Jalisco in Mexico. Unlike other desert plants, it does not have spines. It has a four-foot, long, and thick stem covered with egg-shaped tapered leaves which are grey or yellow. Over time the inflorescence will change to a greenish-yellow. They can easily grow in well-drained sandy or gravelly soils.

Desert Plants | Fox Tail Agave (Agave attenuata)
Fox Tail Agave | Photos From Here


Desert sage (Salvia dorrii) is a desert plant that also has many common names i.e. mint sage, tobacco sage, Dorr’s sage, and fleshy sage. It is a native species of mountains of the United States and Arizona. This is a beautiful desert plant with its grey colored foliage with purple hues and deep purple and blue flowers.

Desert Plants | Purple Sage (Salvia dorrii var. carnosa)
Desert Sage | Photo From Here


The Joshua Tree (Yucca brevifolia) is an evergreen desert plant native to the arid regions of the southwestern United States such as California, Arizona, Utah, and Mexico. The Joshua Tree is very rare and only grows in the Mojave Desert because it relies on a moth to transfer pollen from one flower to another. It takes 50 to 60 years to reach maturity. It has extensive roots systems to maximize water efficiency. The inflorescence is shown between February and April and is usually 1.5 inches long. They have creamy yellow-green sepals. Its fruit is semi-fleshy and green-brown.

Desert Plants | Joshua Trees
Joshua Trees | Photo From Here


The tree aloe (Aloidendron barberae) is a succulent desert plant. It can reach a height of 18 meters and almost 1-meter in width. It has long curved fleshy leaves and is a slow-growing plant that takes a long time to reach maturity. It’s primarily found in South Africa. Tree aloe can be used as an ornamental plant and grown in small containers to reduce its height. Its flower grows above the leaves and varies in color from orange to pink.

Desert Plants | Tree Aloe (Aloidendron barberae)
Tree Aloe | Photo From Here


Ocotillo  (Fouquieria splendens) and is a desert shrub that is often called ocotillo cactus or desert coral. It isn’t actually a cactus although it grows under similar climates. When there is enough moisture present it grows 2-inch leaves around its stem long slender stem. At the end of stems, beautiful red tubular flowers grow in spring, for this reason, their name in Spanish literally means “little torch”. It is a native species of Chihuahuan and Sonoran deserts. This plant has an average life span of about 100 years and grows up to 20 feet tall.

Desert Plants | Ocotillo (Fouquieria splendens)
Ocotillo | Photo From Here


Book-leaf mallee is a unique desert plant that is found in western Australia. The stem is whitish-grey with smooth bark. It has silver-blue colored round-shaped leaves that are arranged in a way that reminds me of a double-helix. Its leaves produce a pleasant aroma when crushed. On different branches some sort of buds’ form. Later that buds change into the flowers. It blooms mostly in winter and spring seasons. Its fluorescence has the yellow colored appearance. Its scientific name is Eucalyptus krueseana. In its native location, the book-leaf mallee blooms between June and September and will produce yellow flowers.

Desert Plants | Book-Leaf Mallee
Book-Leaf Mallee | Photo From Here


Mexican feather grass (Nassella tenuissima) is a silky desert grass. It’s commonly known as Mexico needle grass. This grass is a native species of Mexico, Argentina, and the US. Although it is a beautiful desert grass, it is highly invasive. Because of it hardiness, it is often used as an ornamental plant but often escapes. Mexican thread grass is especially a problem for other native grasses in Australia for this reason. As it continues to spread it is expected to directly affect the beef and wool production industries.

Desert Plants | Mexican Feather Grass
Mexican Feather Grass | Photo From Here


The pencil cactus (Euphorbia tirucalli) is also commonly known as the pencil tree cactus. The name suits its pencil-like, thick, smooth, and green appearance. It can grow to 1-2-meters height and has fleshy and cylindrical stems that are green, red, and gold. There are small leaves present on stem. It mostly grows in semi-arid tropical areas. Pencil cactus is a semi-dangerous plant that produces a laxtex that is poisonous. This latex can cause blindness and the sap present in the stem can also burn your skin. It is native species of Madagascar.

Pencil Cactus
Pencil Cactus | Photo From Here


Desert marigold (Baileya multiradiata) is a native species of North America. This plant is a sun-loving species and mostly grows on sandy surfaces and near roadsides. It has a short life span and grows to about 1 or 2 feet in height and has silver-green foliage. and the head of its flower is bright yellow and is about 2 inches of diameter. Desert marigold has green flowers with white hairs present. These plants are also poisonous to grazing animals whether the plant is alive or dead.

Desert Plants | Desert Marigold
Desert Marigold | Photo From Here


Winecup plant is a flowering plant of the desert and belongs to the Malvaceae family and is scientifically named Callirhoe involucrata. It is a very short plant that ranges between 6 to 12 inches. It prefers sunlight to grow but it can be grown under some shade ornamentally. They can grow in any kind of soil surface and don’t need much water. Too much water can end up killing them through fungal diseases. Winecup plants show an inflorescence during March and April that will produce multiple colored flowers. The flowers open during the day and close at night and will do this for weeks!

Desert Plants | Winecup Plant
Winecup Plant | Photo From Here


California poppy (Eschscholzia californica) is the state flower for California. It has different names i.e. cup of gold, California sunlight, and golden poppy. It is a native species of Mexico and the United States. This plant is now grown as an ornament in houses and offices and reaches lengths of 1 to 5 feet long. Its flower has a cup-shaped appearance with delicate colorings (red, orange, and yellow). It is drought-tolerant and easy to grow.

Desert Plants | California Poppy
California Poppy | Photo From Here


Peacock flower (Caesalpinia pulcherrima) is also named a red bird of paradise because of how showy and beautiful it is. They are a perennial desert plant species that is around three meters long. It has bipinnate leaves with six to ten leaflets. They show racemes inflorescence and each flower consist of 5 petals. The flowers of this plant are very attractive with multiple colors including red-orange and yellow. It is a native species of Southwest United States.

Desert Plants | Peacock Flower
Peacock Flower | Flower From Here


Paddle plant (Kalanchoe thyrsiflora) is a pretty unusual and unique desert plant. It’s a native species of Botswana and also called ‘red pancake plant’. It has rounded paddle-shaped leaves that are quite meaty. Paddle plant can be grown as an ornamental plant and can withstand dry soil for a long time as most desert plants can. It has an erect inflorescence with yellow flowers. The blooming primarily happens in winter seasons.

Desert Plants | Paddle Plant
Paddle Plant | Photo From Here


Lady banks’ rose plant (Rosa banksiae) is a native desert plant of central china and mostly grows in high altitudes. If you’re wondering how it got its name, Lady Banks’ Rose was named after a botanist’s wife. Over time this plant will form a tree-like stem structure. It has slender branches and is a shrub that grows vigorously. Although in the rose family it is surprisingly thornless. Its flowers are beautiful and buttery yellow or white, consisting of 5 leaflets and is small in diameter. This plant is traditionally used in Chinese medicine, most commonly to relieve joint pain. 

Desert Plants | Yellow Lady Banks Climbing Rose
Yellow Lady Banks Climbing Rose | Photo From Here


Desert five-spot (Eremalche rotundifolia) is one of the most beautiful desert plants. It is a native species of the Colorado and Mojave deserts in the United States. It loves flat and dry deserts for optimal growth. Five-spot only grows 4 to 24 inches in height. This plant mostly starts blooming between March and May and its flower is pinkish-purple in hue and is heart-shaped. It is called ‘five-spot’ because at the base of each of the five petals there is always spot present. It is pretty unique in that it only opens its flowers during mid-afternoon and early evening in order to maximize its energy efficiency.

Desert Plants | Desert Five Spot
Desert Five Spot | Photo From Here


Whitestem paperflower (Psilostrophe cooperi) is a one-foot long unique desert plant. It is a native species of Mexico and the Southwest United States. New stems arise from the somewhat woody base of the plant. The stem is covered with tomentose (whitish wooly hairs). The leaves are a green or grey-green color and during the dry season, these leaves fall off. The flowering of this perennial shrub always occurs from February to September. Flowers form at the top of the stem as heads. Each flower contains 6 to 9 petals in ray florets. This plant has a wide habitat and can grow in deserts, gravel washes, and plains.

Whitestem Paperflower (Psilostrophe Cooperi)
Whitestem Paperflower | Photo From Here


Blue palo verde (Parkinsonia florida) is a tree that is mostly found in the Sonoran Desert of the United States and Mexico. It is easily distinguished because of its blueish/green bark and bright yellow flower. Its name in Spanish literally means green pole or stick.

The male and female reproductive systems can be found on the same plant. This tree can be 20 to 40 feet in height and can live longer than a century. New leaves mostly grow after rainfall but it will continue to shed leaves throughout the entire year. In absence of leaves photosynthesis can take place within twigs and branches. It is a great attractor of pollinator species and a source of food for birds. The blue palo verde tree can be grown as an ornamental plant.

Beautiful Desert Biome Plants | Blue Palo Verde
Blue Palo Verde Tree | Photo From Here


The giant claret cup cactus (Echinocereus triglochidiatus) is a 12 to 16 inch long beautiful desert cactus species. It is also commonly known as kingcup due to its cup-like shape. It mostly grows on rocky surfaces and is primarily present in Mexico and the United States. This plant is the state cactus for Colorado. 

They have a cylindrical stem with a large number of spines. At the top of the stem, they possess a funnel/cup-shaped flower. The flower contains tepals (fused sepals and petals) that have a color spectrum from red to orange which attracts hummingbirds that aid in pollination. This plant is easy to grow as an ornamental plant because it needs low maintenance and is evergreen. It is also resistant to grazing by rabbits, deer, and other grazing species which is an added benefit.

Unique Desert Biome Plants | Claret Cup Cactus
Claret Cup Cactus | Photo From Here


Queen of the night (Epiphyllum oxypetalum) is one of the most famous and cultivated unique and beautiful desert plants in the world. The flower only opens at night and closes before sunrise. It is native species of South America, Central America, and Mexico. They prefer to grow under the shade of trees to avoid direct sunlight.

These plants use two types of stems, primary and secondary. Primary stems are 6 meters long and are cylindrical. Secondary stems are small and flat. Stems look waxy due to the presence of cutin which helps to reduce transpiration and store water. They lack proper leaves and produce bracteoles. Its flower contains benzyl salicylate that produces a beautiful aroma.

Queen of the Night | unique and beautiful Orchid Cactus
Queen of the Night | Photo From Here


This is a unique desert plant that grows in a very beautiful pattern that is similar to the buddha’s temple that is present in China, thus how it acquired its name. The main stem attaches to a large number of leaves. These leaves are greenish-grey, scaly, and contain a whitish powder that helps protect themselves to strong heat. The leaves stacked upon one other and produce a neat dimensional design. They flower during the summer and flowers are a vibrant pink color. It can be used as an ornamental plant and can be grown in rooms near windows. It is a native plant species of South Africa and Mozambique.

Crassula Buddha’s Temple | Desert Biome Plant
Crassula Buddha’s Temple | Photo From Here


This beautiful desert plant is a hybrid of two species of echeveria lilacina and echeveria derenbergii. It belongs to the family of Crassulaceae (stonecrop). It is a native species of Central America and Mexico. This plant contains heart-ish-shaped leaves with the two different types of colors. Some plants show light purple and others show bluish-green colored leaves. They flower during the spring season, the flower remains present at the top of stacked leaves. Flowers are pink and yellow and are bell-shaped.

Echeveria Lola Succulent
Echeveria Lola | Photo From Here


Black Prince is a small plant with dark colors. Because of this the leaves look black, hence ‘black prince’. After taking a closer look you can start to appreciate the uniqueness and pattern of this plant. New leaves grow from the center of the plant. As these leaves mature they move outward from the center of the plant. Once they are located at the outside of the plant and are mature they show deep brown or deep purple colors. With higher temperatures, its color even becomes darker. It can be grown inside but it will lose its dark color and show lighter colors. Scarlet red flowers usually form during the winter season. The black prince grows to about 10 inches in height and prefers the well-drained and partially shaded areas to grow. It is a native species of Mexico.

Black Prince
Black Prince | Photo From Here


Fish-hook barrel cactus (Ferocactus wislizeni) is commonly known as candy cactus or compass barrel. This plant belongs to the family Cactaceae and mostly found in Mexico and the United States. It’s easily identifiable because it is about 2 feet in diameter, and round to barrel-shaped. It mostly grows in desert washes and on gravel surfaces. The average life span of this plant is between 60-100 years. It is an edible species and stores a lot of water. There are several yellow-colored spines present on this cactus. The barrel will flower during summer and will produce red to yellow colored flowers. This flower located on top of the plant and are also edible.

Fish-Hook Barrel Cactus
Fish-Hook Barrel Cactus | Photo From Here


Felt bush (Kalanchoe beharensis) is a desert species in the succulent genus. It’s an evergreen shrub that is a native species of Madagascar and belongs to the family Crassulaceae. This plant can grow up to 15′ in ideal growing conditions. Leaves are triangular and green to rust-colored. The bottom of the leaf contains brown colored hairs, these hairs protect the plant from the sun and are known as trichomes. In the summer season, yellowish flowering appears on the plant. These plants can grow in temperatures above 5 degrees celsius and prefer growing in direct sunlight. This plant can be propagated using cuttings.

Felt Brush (Kalanchoe Beharensis)
Felt Brush | Photo From Here


The pen-wiper plant (Kalanchoe marmorata) is a native species of Somalia, Ethiopia, Sudan, and west Africa. It grows to about 1.2-meters tall in height and contains an erect stem. The leaves of this plant are blue or greyish-green in color and contain whitish powder on them. Most leaves contain purple-colored spots on them. Opposite to the almost all desert plants, pen-wiper contains large and widened leaves. They have a diameter of about 20 cm long and 12 cm wide. They bloom in winter and spring. The flowers are star shape and are mostly showing pink color. They prefer to grow in partial sunlight and warmer temperatures (above 10 degrees Celsius).

Penwiper Plant (Kalanchoe marmorata)
Penwiper Plant | Photo From Here


This Beautiful desert plant is a native species of central Mexico. It is scientifically known as Mammillaria elongate. The main stem forms clusters of branches that show a finger-like shape with an average of 15 cm in length and a diameter of 6 cm. All of the stems covered with small (1 cm) yellow spines that are not harmful. This plant is awarded the garden merit by royal horticultural society and is grown for ornamental purposes. It blooms during spring and produces white or yellow flowers. It prefers to grow in partially sunny areas.

Ladyfinger Cactus
Ladyfinger Cactus | Photo From Here


Bastard toadflax (Comandra umbellata) is a unique species of desert plants. This plant is present in different geological regions, but mostly present in North America. It is a herb that grows very slowly and only reaches heights of up to 34 centimeters. It is a very important plant for medical purposes and in recent years its become a preferable source of food due to its sweet taste.

This species is susceptible to blister rust, a native disease of Arizona that will eventually kill the plant. Once infected the plant will show blister spots on leaves. This plant prefers to grow in drylands and high temperatures. The flowers of toadflax lack petals for the most part,  instead they have whitish-green sepals. Both male and female reproductive structures present on the same flower.

Bastard Toadflax
Bastard Toadflax | Photo From Here


Mormon tea (Ephedra nevadensis) is present in different regions of the world including Central Asia, north and south America, and south Europe. Basically, the only desert that does not have this plant are those in Australia. They lack true roots and produce rhizome structures instead. It contains the greenish stems that are capable of photosynthesis.

A single plant contains both male and female reproductive structures. This unique desert plant is used for medical purposes and it is helpful to fight against the common cold, asthma, and hay fever. The branches of Mormon are first dried and then boiled and used as beverages and tea. There is no ephedrine present in this species, but different species of the same genus have ephedrine in them.

Mormon Tea
Mormon Tea | Photo From Here


Showy milkweed (Asclepias speciose) is a beautiful star-shaped desert plant and is a native species of North America. It is a perennial species that grows around 6-feet in height. They grow a hairy herbaceous stem that contains elongated/simple leaves.

The stem contains a milky sap hence the name ‘milkweed’. In the blooming season, at the top of each branch they grow multiple flower clusters (Each cluster contains up to 5 flowers). Flowers show a beautiful whiteish-pink color. They bloom from summer to end of the fall season. Its stem is composed of fiber and has been used to create ropes and nets. Its seeds are edible after boiling. milkweed is a host plant for many caterpillars, butterflies, and moths making it an excellent species for wildlife.

Showy Milkweed with Monarch Butterfly
Showy Milkweed | Photo From Here


Desert mariposa lily (Calochortus kennedyi) is a unique desert plant that belongs to the lily family (no surprise there). It is mostly present in Arizona, California (Mojave Desert), Utah, and Texas. Mariposa lily is a perennial herb. It contains a small twisting stem that is unbranched. At the base of the stem, there are two small leaves also present. This plant only grows a few inches in height. At the apex there a cluster of small 5 to 6 flowers each with 3 sepals and 3 petals. These form a bell-shaped flower and have an orange appearance. Uniquely, if these plants grow at elevated places its color changes from orange to yellow.

Desert Mariposa Lily | (Calochortus kennedyi var kennedyi)
Desert Mariposa Lily | Photo From Here


Canary Island Spurge (Euphorbia canariensis) is a unique desert plant that is also commonly known as the Hercules club. These plants are unique to the Canary Islands located off the coast of northwestern Africa. Also, they are succulents that can reach over 4 meters in height. They lack true leaves, but at the margins of the stem, there are several spine caps present. Canary island spurge has small and subtle flowers known as cyathium which are reddish-green. These plants are considered to be poisonous and they are not preferable ornamental plants for this reason.

Canary Island Spurge in the Desert
Canary Island Spurge | Photo From Here


String of Pearls (Curio rowleyanus) is a member of the family Asteraceae and is native to south-west Africa. It is a perennial creeping (grow horizontally) bead plant that forms vines. When these vines touch the ground they start producing roots. They are very unique and have hundreds of leaves, that are rounded/spherical (like pearls). During the spring season, they grow white flowers that have a very pleasant odor. These plants have adapted to store water and minimize water usage. Since they prefer indirect sunlight, they can be grown in rooms near windows due to their fragrances. The leaves (pearls) will open up when the plant needs water.

String of Pearls Plant
String of Pearls | Photo From Here


Desert plants are some of the most unique and beautiful plants on earth. Desert plants broadly share many characteristics i.e. water storage, drought-resistant, fleshy or waxy stems or leaves, spines, and strong root systems but individual plants. This gives them their characteristic desert-look. However, each individual plant often has further adapted so it can live in areas in the desert where other species cannot so that it will have a competitive advantage.

Many desert plants have a pleasant odor and are eye-catching. For this reason, desert plants are a great source of ornamental plants and are a big tourist attraction. Desert plants are also used for medicine and food, some are poisonous too.

  Let me know if you enjoyed this post if you have any questions let me know if in the comments below! Check Out My Additional Environmental Posts Here Find me on:

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Article Written By: Jason Tome

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