Iconic Plants of Arizona – Pt. 1

Katelyn Preston August 19, 2016

Arizona is home to many unique plants – the most well-known being the cactus and its numerous varieties. We wanted to take a look at some of the most prominent and iconic plants of Arizona, checking out 15 different plants in our three-part series.

In Part One of our three-part Iconic Plants series, we’ll look at the Pink Muhly, Saguaro cacti, the Blue Palo Verde and Chilean Mesquite Trees and the Baja Fairy Duster.

Pink Muhly (Muhlenbergia capillaris): With its fast growing rate and bright pink plumes, the Pink Muhly is one of the most eccentric grasses of all desert wildlife. This foliage is not allergenic, even with its fine texture, and can add a pop of color to a bland garden.

Saguaro (Carnegiea gigantean): One of the most iconic and hardy cacti in all of Arizona, the Saguaro plant can withstand monsoons and droughts. Its amazing skeleton of rich proteins and fibers enables it to store water for many years. It flowers in late spring and the pulpy flesh attracts wildlife like the Gilder Flicker or Gila Woodpecker, who make a home out of its green-grey shell.

Blue Palo Verde Tree (Cercidium Floridum): The Palo Verde was named Arizona’s State Tree in 1954. The name is Spanish for “Green Stick” and describes how the tree uses chlorophyll to photosynthesize and produce sugars for food and energy.  A cool fact about this species of plant is that during prolonged droughts in the desert, the trees may drop branches to conserve water.

Chilean Mesquite Tree (Prosopis species): With an evergreen foliage and deep bark color, this tree brings the perfect amount of shade and texture to a landscape. The Chilean Mesquite trees are usually show rooted and home owners will be surprised to see surface roots, which provide an unusual characteristic to a backyard.

Baja Fairy Duster (Calliandra californica): These “red puffball” flowers take minimal care and can weather the harsh sun of Arizona. Dark green and lacy foliage provides an attraction for critters like the brilliant hummingbird or monarch butterflies. The red color contrasts and adds some beauty to a Southwestern landscape.

All photos are credit of the Landscape Plants for the Arizona Desert online edition, developed by AMWUA Regional Water Conservation Committee.