Carnegiea gigantea, Giant Saguaro

Southwest Desert Flora

Home to the plants of the Sonoran, Chihuahuan and Mojave Deserts

Cirsium ochrocentrum, Yellowspine Thistle

Home Page, Southwest Desert Flora

Welcome to Southwest Desert Flora an on-line guide for those curious about wildflowers and natural vegetation in the southwest, primarily Arizona. This site includes photographs and detailed descriptions of beautiful and sometimes rare plants that have adapted to and thrive under harsh conditions typical of North America deserts and transition areas. The southwestern United States contains some of the most extreme and diverse habitats known and Arizona is located geographically close to the center of this unique assemblage of habitats. For the purposes of this site the southwestern United States includes Arizona, California, Nevada, New Mexico, Texas and Utah. This large geographic area is home to some of the most diverse flora and fauna representatives in the world. Many of these plants are difficult to observe and photograph because many may not bloom every year while others occur in sporadic distributions or have a short window of opportunity in which to witness and successfully photograph them in bloom.

Krameria erecta, Littleleaf Ratany.

As of October 2016 Southwest Desert Flora has 558 plant profiles completed that represent 74 plant families. At this time we have an additional 250 plant species photographed and approximately 12 additional families ready to profile. Efforts are made regularly to update plant data to reflect current botanical information that is continually growing and changing.

I am the photographer of all photographs on Southwest Desert Flora and they are copyrighted. However, the photographs and plants profile text may be used with prior permission and appropriate reference. Please contact me to request permission.

The plants included here are native, endemic or invasive to one or more of the 3 major deserts in southwestern North America which include the Sonoran, Chihuahuan and Mojave deserts. Also included are profiles for plants found in desert transition areas or higher elevation species found in neighboring upland and mountain areas. Transition and other non-typical desert habitat types are often encountered when hiking trails or spending time exploring southwest wild areas. Each one of these unique deserts is further defined by its own set of unique physical and biological properties such as rainfall, temperature and unique associations or assemblages of plants.

Whether for a casual or serious student of wildflowers or an outdoor enthusiast and those curious about plants observed in nature, Southwest Desert Flora attempts to provide a balance between photographs and technical descriptions of plant characteristics.

Calochortus kennedyi, Desert Mariposa Lily

The Southwest Deserts: The Southwest Deserts: The North American deserts identified above are geographically limited to: southeast California; southern Utah; central, southern and western Arizona; southwest New Mexico; west Texas and northern Mexico. Located almost in the center is the state of Arizona whose extreme climate and physical conditions provide some of the most diverse biotic communities found anywhere in the world. In fact, examples of almost all of the world’s biotic communities are each represented in Arizona. In Arizona elevations range from over 12,000 feet on the San Francisco Peaks near Flagstaff, to near sea-level along the Colorado River south of Yuma. These communities, or biomes, found in Arizona include the Tundra, Coniferous Forests, Temperate Deciduous Forests, Grasslands, Chaparral, Deserts and Thornscrub, a semi-tropical habitat found in the southern part of the state. Deserts are well represented in Arizona which is the only state where parts of the influence of all three North American deserts are joined in transition!

Welcome and begin your exploration.

Heliomeris longifolia, Longleaf False Goldeneye