The Ultimate Guide to 25+ Spectacular Desert Flowers & Their Unique Adaptations
Desert Flowers: Approximately 1/3 of the earth’s surface is composed of deserts. A desert is a region or landscape that receives very little precipitation. For this reason, the plants living in the desert must have adaptations to survive.
Despite having prolonged periods without precipitation, severe temperature ranges, dry winds, and low humidity, the beautiful flowers of the desert have learned to survive the harsh environment and continue to bloom and provide colors to the desert.
Flower Type: Shrubs Deserts: Mojave, Chihuahuan, Great Basin, Sonoran
Apache Plume is a slender and upright desert shrub of the Rose family that can grow to 2-6 feet tall. Fallugia paradoxa is called Apache Plume because the feathery seed clusters resemble Indian feather headdresses.
Symphyotricum oblongifolium is a perennial plant of the Asteraceae family. The Aromatic Aster can grow to a height of 1-2 feet. Aromatic Asters are low-growing. Their stems are stiff, compact, and compact. When the plant's stems are crushed, it gives off a balsam-like fragrance.
Artemisia is a large and diverse genus of aromatic, mostly perennial shrubs and herbs of the Asteraceae (daisy) family, characterized by alternating leaves and small inflorescence. All have alternate leaves, tubular yellow flowers, and small flower heads, which appear as hanging, racemose, paniculate, or capitate inflorescences, rarely individually.
Cleome viscosa is an annual herb that belongs to the Cleomaceae family. It is synonymous with Polanisia viscosa. The extracts from the flower and leaves of Cleome viscosa manifest effective antimicrobial activity.
Brittlebush is a common desert shrub under the family Asteraceae. The plant can grow up to 1-5 feet tall and 4 feet wide. Research showed that the Encelia farinosa intrinsic water-use efficiency manifested strong responses to climate change.
Flower Type: Annuals Deserts: Sonoran, Mojave, Antelope Valley
The California Poppy (Eschscholtzia californica) became California's official state flower on March 2, 1903. The four-petal desert flowers, borne on stems 8 to 12 inches (20 to 30 cm) long, are typically cream, orange, or pale yellow. Still, cultivars are white and in a variety of pinks and reds.
Flower Type: Perennials Deserts: North American Deserts
Rumex hymenosepalus is a perennial flowering desert plant belonging to the order Caryophyllales. The inflorescence of the Canaigre Dock is made up of elongated clusters of many small flowers in a reddish pink.
Eulychnia iquiquensis is treelike cactus of the Order Caryophyllales. It is endemic to the northern part of the Atacama Desert. The genus name Eulychnia is derived from the Greek words (eu and lychnos). Its English translation is "beautiful lamp".
Triabthena portulacastrum is an annual herb of the family Aizoaceae. The Desert Horse Purselane is succulent and usually glabrous. The Desert Horse Purslane plant has been eaten for at least 2000 years.
Flower Type: Annuals Deserts: Areas of the Southwest of North America, Northwestern Mexico, Mojave, and Sonoran.
Hesperocallis undulata is the sole species of the genus Hesperocallis. Desert Lily thrives in the hottest and driest regions of the Southwest. The bulb of the Desert lily plant is edible. They have the same taste as garlic.
Flower Type: Annuals Deserts: Mojave and Sonoran, deserts of Southwestern US and Northern Mexico.
The Desert Sand Verbena is a native species of the southwestern United States and Northern Mexico, growing in the sandy areas of the desert. The flowers are trumpet-shaped. The flowers are fragrant with 5 lobes.
Symphoricarpus longiflora is an erect shrub of the Dipsacales family. It is often found in dry habitats. The flowers of the Desert Snowberry are fragrant and tubular. These flowers appear singly or in pairs along the leaf axils.
Pachypodium namaquanum is a sought-after popular succulent of the Apocynaceae family. These Namib desert flowers are large succulents from Northern Cape and southern Namibia. Elephant trucks are also called "halfmens" because they appear half Tree and half-human.
The Hoodia cactus is a flowering plant of the family Apocynaceae. It has been called one of the 21st century’s wonder plants. Hoodia gordonii shares many similarities with the cactus but does not belong to the cactus family. Instead, the Hoodia cactus belongs to the milkweed family.
Hymenoxys lemmonii is a perennial herb of the Asterceae family. The plant can grow to a height of 15-20 inches. The plants of the genus Hymenoxys contain sesquiterpene lactone hymenoxon, which is toxic to sheep.
Delphinium bicolor is a perennial plant of the Buttercup (Ranunculaceae) family. The stems of the Little Larkspur have a height of 4-24 inches. The Little Larkspur plants can absorb toxic substances, like herbicides, pesticides, and pollutants.
Flower Type: Shrubs Deserts: Great Victoria Desert (Australia)
Grevillea treueriana is a small shrub from order Proteales. The Mount Finke Grevillea plants are endemic to Mount Finke of Australia and can grow to a height of 2 meters. The flowers of the Grevillea treueriana are shaped like a toothbrush.
Flower Type: Perennials Deserts: Okanaga, Mojave and Sonoran.
Clematis ligusticifolia is woody or semi-woody climber from the Ranunculaceae family. This desert flowering plant can grow up to 20 feet or more. All parts of the plant can cause severe irritation in the mouth if eaten.
Flower Type: Shrubs/Trees Deserts: Sahara and Arabian.
The Salt tree is a drought-tolerant shrub of the Order Sapindales. It can grow up to 2.5 meters. This plant is native to the Northern African desert areas. The Salt tree has fruits of a triangular drupe.
Saltwort is an annual herb from the Amaranth family. The flowers of the Saltwort are radially symmetrical and possess 5 tepals fused into a cup or tube. Usually, there is one flower per axil of the bract.
In botanical gardens or gardening stores, you may have found plants named "Sedum" that are so different that you wonder if they are related to one another. The genus Sedum is part of the large Crassulaceae (stonecrops) family named for their ability to grow in cold, dry areas with little water.
Flower Type: Shrubs/Trees Deserts: Junggar Basin Region of the Gobi and Sahara.
Tamarix arceuthoides is a shrub or Tree belonging to the Tamaricaceae family. This plant can grow to a height of 5 meters. The Tamarix shrub is commonly found in sandy places and deserts of temperate Asia, Africa, and Europe.
White Saxual is a tap-rooted shrub or small tree that belongs to the pigweed family. The stem of the White Saxaul is stout and rugged. It has a height of 4.5-5 meters. The White Saxaul is called "Ghada" and was often mentioned in classical Arabic poetry.
Flower Type: Shrubs Deserts: Syrian desert and Sinai desert.
White Wormwood is a perennial shrub of the order Asterales. This shrub can grow to a height of 8-16 inches. The White Wormwoods are chamaephyte. The plant is also aromatic. In addition, white Wormwood produces essential oils.
All organisms thrive to survive. This is also true with plants living in the desert environment. So, the next time we hear the word “desert”, our thoughts must not be limited to the harsh environment, but we must also appreciate the beauty of the desert shrubs, blooms, and other plants that provide life to the desert landscape. They have found unique ways to survive the scarcity, heat, and poor soils.