Useful Sonoran Desert Plants

These are plants that have shown themselves to be useful in my yard and garden (or that I want in my yard or garden). Most of these are native to the Sonoran desert and surrounding area, or naturalized. To be honest, some of these I don't even know the names of, I have simply observed them in my yard and watched what happens with and around them. But often they are common enough that those of you living in the Sonoran desert may recognize them and be able to use them, too.

Listed by Type, and then by known Usage, and Permaculture purpose

By Type (or approximate type, anyway)
Cactus
Cholla
Compass cactus
Hedgehog
Prickly Pear
Saguaro

Flowers (annuals)
Camphorweed
Desert Chicory
Dwarf Indian Mallow
Esteve's Pincushion
Hairy seed Bahia
Lupine
Mare's Tail
Mexican Tarragon
Poppy
Trans-pecos thimblehead

Grasses
Panic grass

Shrubs 
Arizona Blackberry
Arizona Rose
Brittlebush
Burroweed
Canyon Bursage
Chaparral Sage
Creosote
Dalea (includes Indigo bush)
Desert Lavender
Four-wing saltbush
Globemallow
Grape scented Sage
lemonade berry bush (skunkbush)
Mexican Oregano
Mormon Tea
Western Mugwort
White Yarrow
Wolfberry

Herbaceous (perennial and annual)
Butterflypea
Desert Marigold
Desert's Claw
Brownfoot
London Rocket (Rocket mustard)
Sharpleaf Groundcherry

Succulents
Agave

Trees
Canyon Hackberry
Desert Hackberry
Emory Oak
Kidneywood
Mesquite
Mexican Elderberry
Palo Verde
Texas Persimmon
Western Mulberry
Yucca

Tubers
Saya

Vine
Fingerleaf gourd
Mesquite Mistletoe
Passion fruit
Southwestern Pipevine


By Usage - because why not know?
Biomass source (grows quickly for pruning, drops leaves = source of organic material for soil):
Desert Broom
Mesquite

Bug deterrent (deters pests, attracts pest predators):
Datura

Critter friendly(habitat, shelter, food so they will stay to add manure):
Agave (leave stalk intact after bloom)
Cholla cactus
Creosote
Desert Broom
Emory Oak
Mesquite
Mesquite Mistletoe
Palo Verde
Prickly Pear cactus
Saguaro

Dynamic accumulator (deep roots to bring up nutrients other plants can share):
Burroweed (more paves the way for future plants, in desert areas)

Producer (makes food, wood, dyes, medicinal, etc...):
Arizona Blackberry
Arizona Rose
Brittlebush
Camphorweed
Canyon Bursage
Canyon Hackberry
Chaparral Sage
Chichiquelite (Solanum melanocerasum)
Compass cactus
Creosote
Desert Hackberry
Desert Lavender
Desert's Claw
Dwarf Indian Mallow
Emory Oak
Fingerleaf gourd
Four-wing saltbush (culinary ash uses)
Globemallow
Grape scented Sage
lemonade berry bush
London Rocket (Rocket mustard)
Mare's Tail
Mesquite Mistletoe
Mexican oregano
Mexican Tarragon
Mormon Tea
Ocotillo
Panic Grass
Passion Fruit
Prickly Pear cactus
Saguaro cactus
Saya (Texas yellowshow)
Sharpleaf Groundcherry
Texas Persimmon
Wolfberry

Nitrogen fixer:
Bird of Paradise (Yellow, or Mexican)
Butterflypea
Dalea (includes Indigo bush)
Desert Senna
Kidneywood (trees)
Lupine
Mesquite

Pollinator attractor:
Arizona Rose
Brittlebush
Camphorweed
Compass Cactus
Creosote
Desert chicory
Desert Broom
Desert's Claw
Dwarf Indian Mallow
globe mallow
Hairy seed Bahia
Mare's Tail
Palo verde
Southwestern Pipevine
Trans-pecos thimblehead

Permaculture purpose*
rhizomial layer:

Ground cover:

Herbaceous:

Shrub:

Vining:


Tree (heat hardy - over story):

Tree (smaller, need partial shade - understory):



* Permaculaturists discuss the different layers in a forest: Over story, Understory, Shrub, Herbaceous, Ground cover, Vining, and Rhyzomial(root). Usually, very tall trees are used for the over story. In a low desert with high heat and low rainfall, however, forests typically do not have the taller trees like elsewhere, so our over story is much lower, and some trees that might be understory in another area of the country could be the over story here. What seems to do best as an over story tree in my area, from what I see around me, are trees that can withstand the intense heat of the sun all day, and they provide partial shade for smaller trees and/or shrubs underneath them.

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