Arizona Shrubs With Thorns

The desert that makes up most of Arizona is surprisingly diverse and rich with vegetation and healthy plants. Many shrubs in the Sonoran Desert evolve to have thorns for protection because, in the desert, it is every man (or plant) for himself.


Bougainvillea is a well-known flowering plant throughout the United States, and it flourishes in Arizona. This subtropical plant can either grow as vines or as a shrub with nearly year-round blooming season. This shrubs have thick woody stems with long thorns that range from a half to 1 1/2 inches in length. The bright blooms are usually purple or pink, and once established grow rapidly. Bougainvilleas are regularly used as landscaping for households, businesses, parks, and gardens.

Catclaw Acacia

This uniquely named perennial grows all over Arizona but is ubiquitous to Verde Valley. The yellow blossoms pop up in spring season. This shrub can grow up to 10 feet tall and is narrow, and got its name from the sharp curved thorns or "claws" that line the stems and branches. They dig into anything that brushes against it. Catclaw patches are important bird and wildlife habitat.


Graythorn is a perennial shrub native to Arizona that blooms tiny white-green flowers in summer. This shrub can grow up to 9 feet tall and very wide. The small thorns cover all the branches of the graythorn and house many wild bird nests. It produces a fruit that quails and doves love to eat. The roots of this shrub can be boiled, ground up and used for soap.

Keywords: plants with thorns in Arizona, Arizona shrubs, Arizona thorny shrubs

About this Author

Lauren Wise is a journalism major from Arizona State University with over forty published magazine and media articles and over 400 Web site articles. Wise owns Midnight Publishing with over eight years experience as a writer, editor, copywriter and columnist. She specializes in food and wine, music and pop culture. Her writing has appeared in magazines including Runway, A2Z, Scottsdale Luxury Living and True West.