Native Arizona Desert Plants

Law protects most native Arizona desert plants. Permits are required before removing or selling the protected plants, and this extends to plants removed from private lands. Native plants, such as the distinct ocotillo, must remain tagged until planted. After planting, the tag should be retained to show proof the plant was legally obtained.


Native Arizona shrubs include the bush dalea, feather bush, kidneywood, red justicia, sugar bush, superstition mallow and white plumbago. Each has a distinctive flower, such as the bright red flowers of the red justicia, which attracts hummingbirds to the blossoms in autumn and springtime. The violet-colored flowers of the bush dalea bloom in the winter and spring and attract butterflies. Springtime flowering bushes include the sugar bush and superstition mallow. The feather bush's flowers start blooming in late spring and into summer. For summer flowers, the kidneywood displays its white flower spikes during the warm season, while the white plumbago begins flowering in the summer and into the fall.


Succulents native to Arizona include Parry's agave and the desert spoon. Parry's agave is a smaller plant, whose mature size will be around 2 feet high by 2 feet wide. The desert spoon is about double that size. The Parry's agave's bright yellow flower blooms during the summertime, while the desert spoon's cream-colored blossom, which grows atop a tall stalk, blooms from late spring to summer. Both enjoy full sunshine and require very little water. Each is rosette shaped, with the agave being a closed rosette and desert spoon open. One of the most spectacular succulents is the ocotillo, an Arizona native with spiny canes that spring from its base, reaching up to 20 feet high. Red flowers bloom on the tips of its canes during the springtime.


The most famous native Arizona cactus is the majestic saguaro, whose blossom is the state's official flower. Other native Arizona cactus includes the barrel cactus, the organ pipe cactus, the Mohave prickly pear and the beavertail cactus. The fishhook barrel cactus, also called the Arizona barrel and has an edible fruit, as does the prickly pear. The organ cactus derives its name from its resemblance to the multiple pipes of a pipe organ. The beavertail cactus is named for its resemblance to a beaver's tail.

Keywords: Arizona native plants, Arizona cactus, Arizona plants

About this Author

Ann Johnson was the editor of a community magazine in Southern California for more than 10 years and was an active real estate agent, specializing in commercial and residential properties. She has a Bachelors of Art degree in communications from California State University of Fullerton. Today she is a freelance writer and photographer, and part owner of an Arizona real estate company.