Plants of the Mohave Desert

Encompassing parts of California, Nevada, Utah and Arizona (though most is in California), the Mohave Desert is home to a range of desert plants and wildflowers. The Mohave Desert is over 25,000 miles wide, notes DesertUSA. Death Valley is perhaps the most well-known location in the Mohave, with a maximum temperature high of 134 degrees F. Plants are drought- and heat-tolerant, accordingly.

Mohave Yucca

Mohave yucca (Yucca schidigera) appears both shrublike and spreading or treelike and upright. Typically 9 to 15 feet in height, one reached 30 feet, according to Mojave Desert. The plant has slender, yellow-green leaves that shoot out in spiny clusters. Mohave yucca bears golden strings or hairs; dead leaves cluster at the base of the plant, turning tan. This plant occasionally bears white or cream flowers.

Pencil Cholla

A member of the cactus family, pencil cholla (Opuntia ramosissima) can grow up to 5 feet high. The plant has 2-inch-long spines on most, but not all, of its branches. Pencil cholla develops tiny green or yellow flowers in the spring and summer months.

California Poppy

The state flower of California is the California poppy (Eschscholtzia californica), and this yellow or orange wildflower grows in all corners of the state, including the Mohave Desert. California poppies open on bright days and close on overcast ones. They have four or eight petals and are gold or orange in color. California poppies bloom from February to September.


A common desert tree or shrub, mesquite (Prosopis) is quite drought-tolerant. The tree grows slowly, so young trees are small, while old trees can reach 20 feet. Mesquite often provides shade in the desert and sometimes grows near watering holes. Mesquite bears clusters of tiny yellow flowers in the spring. Native Americans depended on the mesquite tree for its seed pods, which could be ground into flour.

Keywords: Mohave desert, desert flora, Mohave desert plants

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Based in Northern California, Elton Dunn is a freelance writer and nonprofit consultant with 14 years' experience. Dunn specializes in travel, food, business, gardening, education and the legal fields. His work has appeared in various print and online publications. Dunn holds a Master of Fine Arts in creative writing and a Bachelor of Arts in English.