Arizona offers a unique habitat for a wide range of native wildflowers.
The Southern parts of the state are home to many types of wildflowers which are sometimes collected to grow in gardens.
Multiple species of cacti are also found across the state, together with a few noxious weed species.
Table of Contents
Saguaro (Carnegiea gigantea) is one of the oldest and most important types of cacti in Arizona. This is a flowering cactus that looks similar to a tree given its tall size.
It can grow to a maximum height of up to 40 feet. It does this slowly as the species can survive more than a century.
A common sight in The Sonoran Desert of Arizona, Saguaro is also an important cultural species of the state.
The flower of Saguaro is considered the official flower of Arizona.
While native and important in Arizona, the species is also present in Mexican Sonora.
2. Creosote Bush
Creosote Bushes (Larrea tridentata) are a common sight along Arizona’s desert climate in the South.
This is a very old wildflower and one that multiplies by cloning itself. Surviving almost a century, this plant starts to split a new crown from the old dying crown to multiply itself.
When in bloom, it shows small yellow and white flowers that are highly fragrant.
The smell of these flowers is specific creosote, a scent that has been compared with the fresh smell of nature in the summer rain.
The plant is tall but shorter than Saguaro as it grows to a maximum of 10 feet.
3. Fishhook Barrel Cactus
One of the most common edible wildflowers in Arizona is Fishhook Barrel Cacti (Ferocactus wislizeni). The yellow fruits of the species are eaten by locals.
Various other species such as local mammals also eat its fruit/
Fishhook Barrel Cactus is a large species that grows tall, in a cylindrical shape that resembles a tall barrel.
This is a species that grows up to 6 feet and which may also measure more than 2 feet in diameter.
With its thick skin, this cactus is adapted to the arid conditions of the state with wildfires being one of the biggest issues it faces.
The cacti may be used in gardens as decoration due to their shallow roots.
4. Engelmann’s Hedgehog Cactus
One of the most common Arizona cacti that grow in clusters is Engelmann’s Hedgehog Cactus (Echinocereus engelmannii).
This is a species that grows in multiple stems. It generally has 15-20 stems being a cactus that spreads out quickly.
The species has pink or red flowers which also make it a recommended gardening genus.
Loose soil in direct sunlight that’s heavily aerated is ideal for quick Engelmann’s Hedgehog Cactus growth.
The species remains small even with more frequent watering as each of its stems measures just 1-2 inches.
5. Buckhorn Cholla
This type of cacti (Cylindropuntia acanthocarpa) is a common species of cholla in The Sonoran Desert.
It grows to a size and width of up to a few feet being covered in spines. These spines aren’t sporadically seen on the cacti as on other species.
The spines of the Buckhorn Cholla overlap, making the species look distinct.
Red flowers also help identify the species. They measure more than 2 inches and are generally larger than the 1-2 inch thorn specifically the Buckhorn Cholla.
Also spotted around Tucson, the Buckhorn Cholla comes in multiple varieties. All of them are identified around Arizona.
Brittlebush (Encelia farinosa) is one of the multiple species of wildflowers that grow in arid conditions.
It has small yellow flowers and it grows like a bush, quickly spreading out on its own.
The species has aromatic leaves which are sometimes processed to make natural frankincense.
These leaves also have a type of resin that is extracted for other types of products such as glue.
Brittlebush is important to the local culture which has used the species for frankincense. The bush might also be known as the Hierba del Vaso in the Southern parts of the state.
Its preferred habitat includes small slopes as well as dry sandy soils in direct sunlight.
7. Little-leaved Palo Verde
The Little-leaved Palo Verde (Parkinsonia microphylla) is one of the few trees present in The Sonoran Desert.
This is a species that may reach a maximum height of almost 30 feet and which is characterized by small yellow-to-green leaves.
Rodents and livestock use the seeds and the leaves of the species as food, albeit not as their first choice.
Its seeds are carried underground by various bugs which may help germination.
While not a common species in gardening outside of the state, the Little-leaved Palo Verde is a tree used in local gardening and landscape plans.
It can be a tall tree that needs little to no watering along roads and in parking lots.
The green pods of the species have been traditionally cooked by natives.
8. Graham’s Fishhook Cactus
As one of the smallest cacti in Arizona, Graham’s Fishhook Cactus (Mammillaria grahamii) is one of the rare species of Arizona but an abundant one around Phoenix.
This species of cacti are often seen in areas with Saguro.
You can identify this species by its numerous thin spines. Entirely covered in spines, this is a species that grows into a cylindrical shape.
Pink or red flowers are also specific to the species.
Stinknet (Oncosiphon pilulifer) or The Globe Chamomile is an invasive species across Arizona. Originally an invasive species, Stinknet is one of the most prevalent wildflowers in the state.
It features a globular yellow flower which inspires its name.
This species is found in Southern areas of Arizona as well as in Eastern California.
Its invasive status is given by its rapid and often uncontrolled spread.
Not all herbicides are effective against and one of the low-impact of removing it include manual removal.
Stinknet is rather new in Arizona but the wildflower has shown explosive growth as it has been first recorded in the area just a few years ago.
The plant can cover fields in monocultures or as an invasive species that leaves no room for other plant growth.
10. Tree Cholla
Tree Cholla (Cylindropuntia imbricata) is one of the native species of Arizona and Northern Mexico.
Tree Chollas also bear different other names, depending on their regions. In Mexico, this species is also known as the Devil’s Rope Cactus.
Rich in fruit, this cactus provides food for local species such as deer and sheep.
Large pink flowers are also seen on these types of cacti. They attract different types of moths and insects.
Longhorn Bees are among the bee species that pollinate the cacti.
The species is growing in its habitat as animals and spread its seeds across various Arizona areas.
11. Silverleaf Nightshade
A type of noxious weed, Silverleaf Nightshade (Solanum elaeagnifolium) is one of the toxic species of the state and of North America.
High toxicity makes this plant dangerous for animals.
Its weed status is also given by its rapid multiplication rate. This noxious weed often grows from small roots.
Even a remaining root of 1 inch in the ground may grow into another plant.
In Arizona, this noxious weed flowers from April onwards. It has either blue or lavender-color flowers.
12. Banana Yucca
Banana Yucca (Yucca baccata) is one of the multiple species of the state with edible fruit.
Its fruits are shaped like bananas, as the name of the species implies. The fruits of the Banana Yucca are edible.
Some of the typical flavor comparisons of these fruits include potatoes.
Banana Yucca is a type of shrub that only grows in deserts which means its fruits are edible in a long season.
This rare species, only specific to Arizona, Utah, and California is also the host of rare local caterpillars.
The caterpillar of the Yucca Giant-skipper butterfly feeds on the shrub.
13. Blue Palo Verde
The Blue Palo Verde (Parkinsonia florida) is one of the oldest species of shrubs or small trees in Arizona.
Long life is also specific to the tree which may survive up to one century.
Its yellow elongated flowers give this species a unique look. While historically edible, this is a species mostly known for its decorative role.
The shrub is used in gardening, particularly as a tree with multiple trunks that can be adaptable and which needs little watering.
In the wilderness, the species may still be found in The Sonoran Desert.
14. Desert Globemallow
This type of wildflower (Sphaeralcea ambigua) is known for its attractive flowers and its presence in deserts and gardens.
Sometimes called an Apricot Mallow, The Desert Globemallow is a species that has a unique faint apricot color.
It grows as a type of small shrub that may reach a height of up to 3 feet.
Desert Globemallow is further known as an adaptive species in gardening.
There’s no watering needed with this plant when planted outdoors. Rainfall offers it sufficient humidity to grow.
However, unlike different types of Arizona wildflowers, the Desert Globemallow is a species that needs to be cut as it spreads out onto nearby plants.
15. Pointleaf Manzanita
Pointleaf Manzanitas (Arctostaphylos pungens) are present in woodlands and desert scrub around the state.
The species represents a common sight both in Arizona and in the extended regions as it also grows in California’s chaparral as well as in Mexico.
This small shrub grows to a height of up to a couple of feet and it spreads out rapidly.
Its edible nature makes Pointleaf Manzanita one of the ingredients in local foods such as jams.
16. Thurber’s Cholla
Southern Arizona is the only part of the US where Thurber’s Cholla (Cylindropuntia thurberi) can be found.
This is a type of cacti with rare and long spines which typically measure more than 2 inches.
Flowering cacti, the species can be identified by their yellow to green flowers.
Each petal is dark yellow or golden yellow while the central section is green.
The shrub-like growing pattern of the cacti means livestock rarely reach the flowers to feed on.
17. Coues’ Senna
This type of shrub (Senna covesii) is seen in the desert scrub of Arizona.
A high presence along public roads is also specific to this species.
Coue’s Senna grows to a size of just a few feet. It can be used in gardening but it lacks spectacular flowers, being a secondary choice in most cases.
This species is seen as food for many local species such as bees.
Sulphur Butterfly caterpillars also grow and feed on Coue’s Senna.
18. Desert Marigold
Desert Marigolds (Baileya multiradiata) might be consumed with marigolds, in general.
However, these types of marigolds are specific to the Southern and Southeastern US territories, including Arizona and New Mexico.
This is a small species with multiple flowers. Up to 50 small flowers can grow on a single plant.
A golden yellow color is specific to the flowers.
High adaptability to warm climates makes this species ideal as a plant for local gardens.
When grown in gardens, this wildflower can reach a height of at least 20 inches.
19. California Poppy
Califonia Poppy (Eschscholzia californica) is one of the wildflowers highly present in some of the aridest conditions of the state.
This species has large flowers growing on individual stems. The color of the flowers varies considerably from one region to another.
A yellow color is common for California Poppy in Arizona, followed by an orange color and rarely a pink or red color.
This is a species that can remain small, growing to an average of 4-7 inches. It can also grow up to 60 inches when it doesn’t grow on rocky terrain.
As a type of annual growing plant, California Poppy can also be planted in gardens.
20. Catclaw Acacia
This type of acacia (Senegalia greggii) can grow as a small shrub or a small tree both in the wilderness and indoors.
Catclaw Acacia is eaten by livestock in Arizona, apart from its seeds, which are poisonous.
The small leaf species is also used as a decorative plant.
Well-drained soils and even rocky terrains in gardens support its growth.
With watering, the species might grow to a maximum height of around 15 feet.
21. Sacred Datura
Sacred Datura (Datura wrightii) is one of the highly poisonous species in Arizona.
Fatalities have been recorded in the case of those eating almost any part of the plant.
Large white flowers help identify this poisonous wildflower. Its flowers may reach a diameter of almost 6 inches.
Sacred Datura is a species that can be found in both the Northern and Southern parts of the state.
It can also be found in neighboring states. High adaptability to elevations is specific to the species.
Sacred Datura grows even at elevations of over 5.000 feet.
22. Pink Fairy-Duster
Pink Fairy-Duster (Calliandra eriophylla) is one of the most common flowers to attract butterflies in the state.
Wildlife integrates the flower as deer and other animals also eat the species.
Dry alkaline soil is ideal for the Pink Fairy-Duster growing in gardens.
Unlike most native species, Pink Fairy-Duster can grow in full sun as well as in partial sun.
Its colorful round flowers are one of the main reasons to consider the wildflower in gardens.
23. Trailing Windmills
Trailing Windmills (Allionia incarnata) are among the wildflowers which have symmetrical-growing flowers.
These flowers come in different colors such as pink, red, purple, and lavender.
A wider Southwestern habitat is specific to Trailing Windmills. It grows across Arizona and in multiple other states including California.
Trailing Windmills can be planted in gardens as an alternative to lavender due to the similar coloring of its flowers.
24. Great Mullein
Great Mullein (Verbascum thapsus) is one of the common species on disturbed soil in Arizona.
This is a species that begins to be invasive as soon as its presence outside of the warm areas of the state, such as in temperate climates.
Often found on crops and other types of disturbed land, this species is the host of pest bugs.
Heavy chemical use isn’t necessarily against Great Mullein as the species can be removed when preparing the crops mechanically.
25. Stansbury’s Cliffrose
Stansbury’s Cliffrose (Purshia stansburyana) is one of the tallest types of wildflowers in Arizona.
This is a species that blooms small white flowers and that locals are known to feed livestock and different types of animals such as deer and sheep.
Some of the deer found in the state may avoid the species, on the other hand.
Stansbury’s Cliffrose is a species that grows across multiple habitats including woodlands edges, deserts, and all types of well-drained soils.
Limestone is one of the preferred habitats by the species.
A fibrous plant, this species is used across various industries in the manufacturing of rope.
26. Blue Dicks
One of the most common types of wildflowers in Arizona a purple color is Blue Dicks (Dipterostemon capitatus).
Large purple flowers are specific to this species, which also shows invasive traits.
The species is very good at populating areas affected by wildfires, a common occurrence compared to other states.
Manual removal is required in gardens where the species can overspread.
These types of plants can quickly cover entire areas, allowing almost no room for local species to grow.
27. Southwestern Mock Vervain
This type of perennial plant (Glandularia gooddingii) is a type of verbena, a species that is a host for different moth and butterfly caterpillars.
It grows to a width of several feet similar to a shrub.
Small purple and dark purple flowers are specific to the Southwestern Mock Vervain.
This is a species that lives along deserts but cannot be grown without watering when planted in gardens.
Frequent watering is still needed for the species as it may even die quickly in some of the driest years.
This species is only found in warm, tropical, and subtropical climates.
28. Desert Tobacco
Desert Tobacco (Nicotiana obtusifolia) is a species that only grow in Arizona deserts.
The Southwestern United States is home to Desert Tobacco up to California.
This is a small species that may reach a maximum height of just around 30 inches.
Mostly tied to arid climates with limestone and all types of sandy terrains, the species is known as a small plant with small white flowers.
The flowers of the species are small compared to the size of the plant as they measure up to 1 inch each.
29. Coulter’s Lupine
This type of lupine (Lupinus sparsiflorus) is found in the central and Northern parts of the state.
It has a distinct purple color which darkens to a nuance closer to blue as the species matures.
Coulter’s Lupine has a columnar profile. It grows vertically similarly to a spiral.
The species is an important local plant for bees, wasps, and wildlife.
The pollination and spread of the species aren’t necessarily impacted by bees and insects.
Fruits of Coulter’s Lupine tend to burst into seeds that are dispersed by wind but the species isn’t invasive.
30. Pinewoods Geranium
Pinewoods Geranium (Geranium caespitosum) is a type of geranium flower that grows in valleys and other moist areas around
It can be seen in different types of bright colors such as purple, pink, dark pink, red, and white.
Together with Utah, Arizona is one of the few US states where all the colors these species come in grow.
These flowers have a long bloom season in a state as warm as Arizona.
Its flowers are in bloom up to September. Pinewoods Geranium are easy to identify even before blooming due to their parsley-looking leaves.
31. Whitethorn Acacia
The Whitethorn Acacia (Vachellia constricta) is one of the tallest wildflowers in The Sonoran Desert.
It may reach tens of feet but it offers a reduced interest for local insects and it’s low in pollen.
This species blooms twice per year in Arizona, typically soon after it rains.
Its globular yellow flowers seem rich in nectar but they are most likely appreciated for their visual appeal, together with its pea-looking pods.
32. Desert Willow
Highly tolerant of hot desert climates, Desert Willow (Chilopsis linearis) is one of the most common native species in the Southern parts of Arizona.
This is a species that has been recorded to have a long history in local culture.
Its extracts have been used in curing all types of conditions such as various infections. The wood of this type of willow has been used as raw construction material.
Like other types of willow, Desert Willow prefers to grow next to streams and rivers, where its growth rates are rapid.
Its flowers are either white or pink and they are seen in full bloom from April-May until late fall.
33. Beardlip Penstemon
Growing to a maximum height of up to 3 feet, The Beardlip Penstemon (Penstemon barbatus) is one of the species which grows both in full sun and in the shade.
This species is often grown in gardens due to its colorful flowers.
The flowers of the Beardlip Penstemon are either pink or vivid red.
In bloom until the fall, these flowers measure at least 2 inches. A shrub-like growing profile is specific to the species and pruning is required whenever it grows in gardens.
34. Redstem Stork’s-Bill
This type of wildflower (Erodium cicutarium) has purple to pink flowers.
It has a highly invasive status across the state, often being found on various crops it can overgrow.
Typical management techniques don’t necessarily require chemical sprays. However, this species can overgrow areas of gardens it might be introduced in.
In Arizona, mowing the lawn typically kills the Redstem Stork’s-Bill so that it doesn’t require any other type of management.
The plant is more invasive in other areas North of Arizona as its leaves don’t grow as high up the stems so that it survives typical yard mowing.
35. Golden Columbine
The Golden Columbine (Aquilegia chrysantha) is one of the few golden yellow wildflowers of the state that don’t live in full sun.
Too much sun exposure quickly dries and kills the Golden Columbine which prefers shaded areas.
In local gardens, this species is adapted to shaded areas or as a wildflower that grows in the shade of a taller species.
Some species of migrating butterflies are seen feeding on its flowers, which are rich in pollen and nectar.
36. Crucifixion Thorn
This species (Canotia holacantha) is found across central and Southern parts of Arizona.
A North American Native, this is a species that grows in The Sonoran Desert and further South in Baja California.
Crucifixion Thorns grow up to a height of 15 feet with many plants not growing taller than 10 feet due to their preferred habitat.
These types of plants only grow in deserts but they prefer higher elevation areas of these arid habitats.
In Arizona, The Crucifixion Thron grows on slopes and around some of the rocky terrains found in deserts.
37. Spreading Fleabane
Spreading Fleabane (Erigeron divergens) is one of the multiple hairy plants of Arizona that has varying sizes.
This plant can grow up to 21 inches but many are smaller.
A height of up to 5 inches is common for the Spreading Fleabane. This is a species with white scarce flowers, that are also easy to spot.
The plant has been used for various health symptoms in traditional medicine.
Today, it is used as a decorative plant due to its long season which lasts from early spring up to September.
Spinystar (Escobaria vivipara) is one of the most popular types of cacti in US gardens and the species is native to Arizona.
Some changes in its habitat have been noted as fewer Spinystars are seen in the Northern parts of the state as opposed to Southern Arizona.
This is a globular-shaped cactus that is covered in thin spines.
It remains small often not even reaching a height of 6 inches.
A pink to purple flower is specific to the cacti but other colors may also be spotted across Arizona.
Yellow flowers on Spinystars are rare, but they can be as adaptable to rocky terrain gardens as the more common pink form.
39. Arizona Poppy
Arizona Poppy (Kallstroemia grandiflora) is a species native to the state with a high presence in New Mexico and Mexico.
This is a flower that can be seen in various arid climates and which is dependent on rain for flowering.
It typically blooms soon after it rains and it may spread out similarly to a shrub.
This species is known for its colorful florets which may grow on the cover of a plant in their hundreds.
Orange or yellow florets are mostly specific to the Arizona Poppy.
40. Notch-leaf Scorpionweed
Rocky, sandy, well-drained terrains of Arizona are the home of the Nothc-leaf Scorpionweed (Phacelia crenulata).
This is a type of flowering plant that’s both aromatic and toxic.
While it smells good, this is not the type of wildflower to adopt in your garden as even touching it causes rashes and skin-level pain through dermatitis.
The aromatic nature of the flower and its noxious profile only attracts a few insects to its blue to purple flowers.
This species is only found in disjunct populations as it’s believed its numbers are falling across the state.
41. American Threefold
One of the most common wildflowers in the state is the American Threefold (Trixis californica). This is a species used for hedges and this makes it popular across gardens.
It can be found in all areas of the state, further into California, as well as throughout Central and South America.
Rapid growth rates make the bush good for hedges. This species also decorates gardens with its yellow-golden flowers.
American Threefold is a host plant for local butterfly species such as the White-lined Sphinx Butterfly.
42. London Rocket
Some of the smallest flowers of various Arizona species are seen on London Rocket (Sisymbrium irio).
This is a type of annual herb which grows tiny yellow flowers that are often used across various industries.
Turned into balms, the extracts of these flowers are used in various traditional medicine products.
Wildflowers of this species are generally short, only growing to a height of up to a couple of feet.
In Arizona, the presence of this herb on disturbed land is problematic as it acts similarly to a weed and it requires management techniques.
Growing up to 5 feet, Chuparosa (Justicia californica) is one of the tropical climate plants that has spread to the US, mainly to Arizona.
The species reaches several feet in height and it can be identified by its long red flowers.
Some of the natives in its area used to eat these flowers according to traditional food recipes.
Desert regions such as those in Arizona attract this plant.
Chuparosa has also adapted to living on disturbed land, particularly on new crops.
This is a plant that attracts all types of wildlife as its vivid red flowers are also rich in nectar. Hummingbirds are among the common species that feed on them.
44. Rainbow Hedgehog Cactus
This type of cactus (Echinocereus rigidissimus) is known for growing in solitude. It eventually reaches a cylindrical shape and a height of just a few inches.
Large pink and white flowers are specific to this species which is also used in gardens for décor.
Properly drained soils are required for the cacti to develop. Watering the species isn’t recommended outdoors as it can quickly kill the species.
This species is now decreasing in numbers across one of the areas it used to be frequently seen, the Southern parts of Arizona.
45. Broom Snakeweed
Brown Snakeweed (Gutierrezia sarothrae) is one of the toxic species of Arizona.
It overgrows all types of land and its bitter taste also means livestock doesn’t limit its spread.
Cattle overlook the species due to its taste but even eating it doesn’t lead to a good outcome as the plant itself is toxic.
Once used in traditional medicine, this plan requires proper management techniques.
Hand removal and pesticides are among the measures used against it.
However, the seeds of the species may survive for a long time. This week has been shown to survive fires and quickly regenerate.
46. Turpentine Bush
Southern Arizona marks the area of the Turpentine Bush (Ericameria laricifolia).
A unique look makes this species a prized plant in the state as well as in gardens as its leaves are sharp, similar to needles.
The shrub can grow with stems that may or may not have these leaves.
Small yellow flowers grow on top of each stem.
Turpentine Bushes are taller than other similar species, growing up to a height of 60 inches.
47. Apache Plume
Apache Plume (Fallugia paradoxa) is native to Arizona.
This plant is found across multiple desert habitats across various altitudes.
It can be one of the species that play a role in preventing soil erosion in areas where it grows.
The species has large white flowers and feathery stems.
Also present across woodlands, Apache Plume is one of the species which is a known nectar and pollen source for bees and wasps.
Paper wasps show a particular interest in their flowers.
48. Seep Monkeyflower
Seep Monkeyflower (Erythranthe guttata) is one of the oldest species of wildflowers in Arizona.
This herbaceous wildflower is found along streams and rivers but it also grows in deserts.
Its high adaptability is seen West into California’s chaparral.
The plant is known for being entirely edible, providing a food source to local wildlife.
Seep Monkeyflowers are highly adaptable and are mostly seen along roads and in gardens.
Its golden yellow flowers recommend it for gardening.
49. Santa Rita Hedgehog Cactus
Only found in Southern Arizona, Santa Rita Hedgehog Cactus (Echinocereus santaritensis) is one of the rarest cacti in the state.
This species grows a combination of short and long spines and it has vivid red flowers which grow in high numbers.
Rapid spread is specific to this species but it tends to be killed rapidly as well, especially since it grows along roads.
50. Parry’s Beardtongue
Parry’s Beardtongue (Penstemon parryi) is one of the multiple desert species of the state.
This is a flower that blooms in March and April. It has dark red flowers and it requires little to no watering at all in gardening.
Mostly grown in gardens, this is a low-maintenance species but watering it together with other plants can kill it.
The species is also grown around homes to attract different types of wasps, moths, and hummingbirds.
51. Southwestern Prickly Poppy
Present with at least 3 subspecies in the state, The Southwestern Prickly Poppy (Argemone pleiacantha) is one of the rare white wildflowers of the state.
The presence of these subspecies is the main reason the species is also seen in pink and purple colors.
You can identify all of these subspecies by the color of their sap. Yellow sap is specific to the Southwestern Prickly Poppy and it can be seen when its stems or leaves are broken.
52. Cowpen Daisy
Cowpen Daisy (Verbesina encelioides) is a type of herb with limited presence in the state.
This is a plant that may reach a height of up to 4 feet with an average height of 2 feet.
Yellow or golden yellow flowers are specific to the species.
The Cowpen Daisy has specific sharp or toothed petals which separate it from other similar golden flower plants in the state.
As a type of aster, this is also a species often visited by bees and butterflies.
53. Whipple Cholla
This type of cacti (Cylindropuntia whipplei) is one of the oldest in the state. It can only be found in low numbers as the species is edible.
The cacti grow to a height of up to a few feet and show multiple long spines.
Its fruits can be collected and eaten raw or cooked.
These types of cacti can be used in gardens across the US even at high elevation as it has high resilience even below-freezing temperatures.