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Native Desert Shrubs of Arizona

sedona, arizona image by JJAVA from

The state of Arizona is located in the southwest region of the United States, with Mexico on its southern border, and California and Nevada on its western border. Much of the state is comprised of desert terrain. Its native shrubs are typically drought resistant and many boast colorful blossoms during certain times of the year. While native desert plants are often noted for their thorns, none of the following Arizona natives have thorns.

Bush Dalea

The Bush Dalea (Dalea pulchra) is native to both Arizona and Mexico. The plant will grow to about 5 feet tall and 3 to 5 feet wide. The Bush Dalea attracts butterflies to its purple flower clusters which bloom from winter to spring. Its foliage is fine and evergreen, and produces a moderate amount of litter.

Feather Bush

The Feather Bush (Lysiloma microphylla v. thornberi) is native to Arizona and Sonora, Mexico. This large plant reaches 15 feet high and 15 feet wide with an irregular form. A semi-evergreen with fine texture foliage, its flowers resemble off-white puffballs, which bloom from late spring to early summer. It can be pruned to resemble a small tree, yet it is a messy plant that produces a high amount of litter.


The Kidneywood (Eysenhardtia orthocarpa) is native to southern Arizona and Sonora, Mexico. A large shrub, it reaches about 15 feet high and 10 feet wide at maturity. The Kidneywood is a semi-evergreen with medium-green foliage and low shedding. Its flowers, which are white spikes, blossom during the summertime.

Red Justicia

The Red Justicia (Justicia candicans) is native to both Arizona and Mexico. The small evergreen bush attracts hummingbirds to its bright red flowers during the fall and spring. It is an evergreen plant with medium-green foliage and grows to about 3 feet high and 3 feet wide at maturity. It produces a low amount of litter and enjoys partial sun.

Sugar Bush

The Sugar Bush (Rhus ovata) is native to Arizona and Baja California. The Sugar Bush makes a suitable screening plant as it will grow to 6 feet high by 6 feet wide and will do well in full or partial sun. It is a low-littering plant with coarse, dark-green foliage.

Superstition Mallow

The Superstition Mallow (Abutilon palmeri) is native to Arizona and Mexico. When fully mature it will grow to about 4 feet high and 3 feet wide. A thorn-free bush with coarse, silvery-green foliage, its orange-yellow flowers bloom during the spring. It makes a suitable poolside plant, due to its lack of shedding.

White Plumbago

The White Plumbago (Plumbago scandens) is native to Arizona and Mexico. Its flowers, which are white clusters, bloom from summer to fall. The evergreen foliage is dark green with a medium texture, producing a small amount of litter from the plant’s shedding. At maturity is has a sprawling form that is about 3 feet high and 3 feet wide.

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