Desert trees are known for their ability to tolerate hot, harsh, and arid climates and at the same time produce foliage and fruits. A desert is a place that has dry air, sandy soil, and a very low rainfall rate.
Desert trees have an excellent ability to absorb moisture from deep under the soil and store it in their trunk for further use. If you live in a place that has a desert climate then it is always better to have drought-tolerant trees in your backyard that can stand bravely in such conditions.
North America has four deserts-the Great Basin, Sonoran, Chihuahua, and the Mojave. The Chihuahua and the Great Basin desert are known for their bitterly cold climate and as a result, the vegetation in these two desserts is quite stunning.
What Are the Different Types of Trees That Grow in Deserts?
Trees that belong to deserts are majorly drought-resistant trees such as mesquite trees, acacia trees, desert willow trees. These trees are known for their lush foliage and alluring colors during their flowering time.
The other varieties of desert trees that can easily grow and survive in hot conditions are the Chaste tree, Joshua tree, ironwood tree, and date palm tree. The trees which have these characteristics can easily thrive in desert type climate:
- Trees can easily grow and survive in high temperatures.
- They can hold moisture and are drought-resistant.
- Trees can grow well in sandy and rocky soil with very low moisture content.
- Trees which have an ability to thrive in hot temperatures during the day but also cold temperature during the night.
Desert trees are gaining popularity and have found a place in modern home design. Desert plants can survive in a glass terrarium and a Xeriscaping landscape. The term xeriscape is originated from the Greek word Xeros which means “dry”. The main reason behind the popularity of desert trees in modern homes is their ability to live in drought conditions.
They do not require much care and hence they are loved by homeowners. Desert trees can broadly be divided into three main categories: Wildflowers, Cacti, and Succulents. If you want to know about desert trees then you are at the perfect place.
How to Take Care of Desert Trees?
If you belong to an area with a desert climate then it is not tough to grow desert trees in your backyard. Desert trees thrive in sandy soil with full sun. Once you set up your desert garden, only occasional watering is required in order to keep the roots moist. If you belong to the states such as Arizona, California, or Texas, then you only need to water your desert trees once a week or once in ten days.
The Best Desert Trees with Pictures and Names
Here are some of the most beloved desert trees from all over the globe. The following list includes the scientific name of trees as well as their pictures.
Ironwood Tree (Olneya Tesota)
Ironwood is one of the most smallest and popular desert trees. The ironwood tree belongs to the Sonoran Desert. The most distinctive feature of this tree is its bluish-green leaves. Ironwood trees can be transformed into a proper desert bush or even as a small shade tree with pruning.
Purple and red flowers begin to bloom on this tree in early summers. The other names for the Ironwood tree include muscle wood tree and hornbeam. The tree has got its name because of the superior quality hardwood produced by this tree. If you belong to a scorching climate then an Ironwood tree should be planted in some shady area.
Palo Verde (Parkinsonia Aculeata)
The Palo Verde is a popular desert tree that has a multi-branch canopy. The leaves of this tree are greenish. During the spring season, yellow and white flowers bloom on this tree and it beautifully fills your garden with color and scent. Palo Verde is a deciduous tree, and its leaves fall during the autumn season.
The other names of the Palo Verde tree include Jerusalem thorn. This tree is remarkably drought resistant and can easily adapt to various environments. If you to have some shade in your yard then you should choose this tree for your garden.
Acacia Farnesiana (Vachellia Farnesiana)
Acacia farnesiana is commonly known as sweet acacia. The other names of this tree are needle bush and mimosa bush. Sweet acacia is a medium-sized tree that grows very well in the desert biome. These trees can grow up to 30 ft. and their wide canopy can provide plenty of shade. The tree is deciduous in some environments and hence can be a little messy. But this tree is also evergreen in many areas and doesn’t shed its leaves in the autumn season. Acacia farnesiana can be distinguished by its spiky branches and yellow flowers that have a mesmerizing fragrance.
Shoestring Acacia (Acacia Stenophylla)
This acacia tree is a tall tree with long thin leaves. This tree can grow up to 33ft. this tree is known for its ability to thrive in intense heat and can also tolerate cool temperatures. This is an evergreen tree but it sheds its leaves in the drought season. You should properly water this tree in the summer in order to avoid the mess of cleaning leaves from your backyard.
Desert Willow (Chilopsis Linearis)
If you want a small tree that resembles a bush for your backyard then a desert willow tree is surely a great choice. This tree is not a true willow tree and has only leaves that are similar to a willow tree. Like all other trees, this tree is also drought tolerant and very well grows in a desert climate. The desert willow tree has large trumpet-shaped flowers that are purple or magenta. This tree will surely enhance the beauty of your yard.
Catclaw Acacia (Senegalia Greggii)
Catclaw Acacia is also popularly known as a paradise flower as well as a wait-a-minute bush. This tree thrives in an arid climate and is commonly found in the southwest region of the country and Mexico. The maximum which this tree can grow is only 10ft. The small height of these trees makes them a great choice for small yards.
Catclaw tree has hooked prickles on its branches; the name catclaw is derived from the shape of these branches. In spring beautiful flowers blooms in this tree that has a sweet scent. Another remarkable feature of this tree is its ability to withstand extreme cold as well as the hot environment.
African Sumac (Rhus Lancea)
African sumac tree is also known for its drought-resistant capabilities. This tree is small and bushy and natively comes from African deserts. This desert tree has a shady canopy that can easily be pruned to keep the size of the tree small.
Even if you want a dense desert tree for your yard then also this tree is a good choice as this tree can easily reach 20 to 30ft. This tree has small pine-like leaves that drop every year. This might result in a messy lawn but you can always use these leaves as mulch in your yard.
Chaste Tree (Vitex Agnus-Castus)
Chaste tree is a medium-sized tree that can thrive in a desert-type climate. This tree belongs to the Mediterranean region and grows well in the South Western part of the country. Chaste tree has dense green foliage which makes it a perfect shade tree if you want to escape the summer heat.
Forman’s Eucalyptus (Eucalyptus Formanii)
Forman’s eucalyptus is a fast-growing tree that is drought resistant and survives well in the heat. It is one of the smallest species of the eucalyptus which you choose for a small yard. If this tree is not pruned then it can easily grow to a height of 33ft. The eucalyptus tree has a beautiful foliage crown at the end of its branches.
Boojum Tree (Fouquieria Columnaris)
The Boojum trees are native to the Sonoran desert and parts of the Baja California peninsula. These trees are parts of the rocky hillsides of the peninsula where water is scarce and there is a very high temperature. The boojum tree is a part of the ocotillo family and is slightly different in appearance from the other desert trees. This tree resembles a giant cactus and it can easily grow up to 70ft. in arid conditions. During summer, white flowers blossom and they have an amazing honey scent.
Date Palm Tree (Phoenix Dactylifera)
Date palm trees can thrive in desert conditions and will surely add beauty to your garden in arid conditions. Only certain types of palm are suitable for a desert garden. So if you want a palm in the landscape, make sure that it grows well in desert conditions. You can always go with Phoenix dactylifera. This date palm tree can grow well in arid as well as semi-arid regions. This variety of date palms can easily withstand high temperatures. The only drawback of this tree is that it does not survive in temperatures below 20°F.
Texas Mountain Laurel (Dermatophyllum Secundiflorum)
This tree is also an excellent small desert tree that can grow very well in a desert-type climate. This tree can be kept as a flowering shrub if proper pruning is done from time to time. The most remarkable feature of this tree is that it is evergreen and unlike many trees, it doesn’t get messy during the autumn season. This tree belongs to the deserts in the South Western part of the country. This desert tree grows slowly and requires very little maintenance.
Beautiful purple flowers are produced by these trees that will surely add charm to your desert garden. This tree is known to thrive even in very harsh conditions. Don’t worry if the soil quality in your area is poor, this tree can adjust to all soil types and needs very watering to produce foliage and flowers.
Texas Ebony (Ebenopsis Ebano)
Texas Ebony is a small desert-type tree with dense foliage. If you have a small yard and you are looking for a dense tree then Texas Ebony will surely please you. This is a slow-growing tree that grows to around 25ft. with a spread of 8-15ft. During summers; clusters of white puffy flowers are produced by this tree. Unlike many other desert trees, this tree produces dense foliage. This feature can be used to create a privacy screen in your garden.
Sand Palm (Allagoptera Arenaria)
If you own a small yard and you are looking for a desert tree then this tree can be an excellent choice. The maximum height of Sand Palm trees is about 6ft. which is perfect for small yards. This tree produces feather-like leaves that seem to grow out of the ground.
The leaves of this tree grow in an upward direction and after an extent, they form an arch. These palm trees belong to the coastal region. But because of their drought-resistant and heat-resistant capabilities you can always plant them in your desert garden.
Tipu (Tipuana Tipu)
Tipu is a fast-growing desert tree that can grow to around 100ft tall and 65ft. wide. Tipu is a huge tree and you should choose this tree only if you have a huge backyard. Beautiful orange-yellow flowers bloom in this tree during the summertime. This is a deciduous type tree that sheds its leaves in the winter as well as spring season. As a result, your garden can be a little messy during this time.
Sissoo (Dalbergia Sissoo)
Sisso is a popular desert tree commonly known as North Indian Rosewood. This tree thrives in full sun and high temperatures. Sisso is an excellent choice for large desert gardens. This tree resembles a type of aspen. This tree can easily grow up to 82ft and sheds its leathery leaves in the summers.
During the early spring season, large clusters of tiny pink and white flowers are produced by this tree which is very fragrant and will surely add charm to your garden. Please keep in mind that this is a huge as well as messy tree. The roots of this tree can extend to a large distance and can cause damage to sidewalks as well as surrounding buildings. If you live in a neighborhood with many buildings around you then should avoid this tree for your desert garden.
Acacia Bailey (Acacia Baileyana)
This tree can easily withstand long drought periods and high temperatures. This tree has an ornamental design with feather-like leaves that can provide plenty of shade in the desert garden.
These trees are very popular and a good choice for the desert garden as they require very little maintenance and can be planted in fertile soil. The golden-yellow flowers of this tree add to its beauty when they blossom in early spring. These flowers bloom in form of clusters and have an alluring fragrance.
Chilean Mesquite (Prosopis Chilensis)
The Chilean mesquite desert is native to the Arizona desert and some parts of the South Western states. The most attractive feature of this tree is its wide canopy that can easily provide enough shade in your desert garden. If you are looking for a tree that can grow rapidly then this could be an excellent choice. It can grow up to 46ft. in height. This tree has pinnate-shaped leaves and yellowish flowers that generally bloom in early winters.
Texas Olive (Cordia Boissieri)
Texas olive is another popular tree with large green beautiful leaves. This is a slow-growing tree with lush green foliage. This tree is an ideal choice for small yards. Contradictory to its name, Texas olive is not a real olive tree. It belongs to the Boraginaceae plant family of shrubs. Like all other desert trees, these trees are also heat tolerant and produce white flowers all around the year. The average life span of the Texas Olive tree is between 30 to 50 years.
Palo Brea (Cercidium Praecox)
The Palo Brea tree can be classified as a large shrub or a small desert tree. This tree can easily grow to between 16 and 40ft. The flowers in this tree bloom during the mid-spring and during this period the tree transforms into a stunning yellow tree.
This tree also belongs to the category of the deciduous tree and new leaves begin to grow on this tree after rainfall. Palo Brea grows in an Umbrella shape; this creates enough of the shade under the tree. This tree can thrive well in desert conditions such as low rainfall, sandy soil, and full sun exposure.
Joshua Tree (Yucca Brevifolia)
Joshua trees are not actual trees but a variety of succulents. They belong to the category of yucca plants. The characteristics of such plants include thick stems and branches with spiky ball-like leaves at the end of branches. These trees have a great ability to absorb water after rainfall. Joshua trees also have an excellent root system that can go as deep as 36ft. under the ground. The Joshua tree produces an array of white flowers during the summer season. The size of a medium-sized Joshua tree is around 70ft.
Mastic Tree (Pistacia Lentiscus)
Mastic tree has dense green foliage which makes it very popular in the South-Western region. This tree is an evergreen tree whose leaves don’t fall during the autumn or winter season. This tree also has a unique ability to survive without water for weeks. The tree gets its name from a resin that is used in the manufacturing of gum and as a thickening agent. This tree can grow up to 13ft tall. This tree can be used as a privacy screen as well as can also be used as a dwarf tree.
Guajillo Acacia (Senegalia Berlandieri)
Guajillo Acacia is also a popular dessert that belongs to Texas, Arizona, and the rest of the southwest region of the country. It is a great ornamental tree that can easily attract pollinators. The reason behind its popularity in the desert garden is its limited watering needs and small size. Guajillo can also be considered a large shrub or small tree. This truly depends on the growth of a tree and how often the tree is pruned.
The leaves of this tree are lacy and fine like a mimosa. This tree produces creamy white flowers that can attract a large number of bees. The honey produced by these bees after feeding on these flowers is very highly prized and is considered of good quality. The tree not only thrives in a desert climate but can also withstand temperatures down up to -15 degrees.
Mulga (Acacia Anura)
If you are looking for a desert tree to plant in the patio or the pool area then Mulga is surely a great choice. This tree can easily tolerate high heat and during every late spring, the tree is covered with stunning yellow flowers. The tree produces very little litter and the foliage of this tree stays on its branches all year long.
By this time you must be aware of many great desert trees that can work well in arid conditions. You can make your garden beautiful with any of the above desert trees. Whatever tree you choose, just make sure that you provide it with proper care. These are desert trees so overwatering can also be harmful. Make sure you properly water them and prune them from time to time if you are planning to plant them in a small garden.