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Mojave Desert Shrubs

Featured Shrubs

Creosote bush

Creosotebush occurs throughout the Mojave, Sonoran, and Chihuahuan deserts. Its distribution extends from southern California northeast through southern Nevada to the southwest corner of Utah and southeast through southern Arizona and New Mexico to western Texas and north-central Mexico.

Mojave yucca

Mojave yucca can be arborescent or shrublike, with single or clumped erect stem. This highly variable, long-lived, slow-growing species is simple-stemmed or sparingly branched, with the first branches occurring a few feet off the ground. Mojave yucca generally grows from 9.2 to 14.8 feet (2.8-4.5 m) tall, although specimens as tall as 30 feet (9 m) have been reported. Individual plants may live for hundreds of years. The gray-brown bark is rough and ridged.

Chaparral yucca

This plant is found in chaparral, coastal sage scrub, creosote bush scrub and the desert at elevations below 2500 m. It grows in southern California, northwestern Arizona, and Baja, California.

California juniper

California juniper is distributed from Shasta County, California, south as far as Baja California Norte. California juniper occurs through the inner Coast Ranges and in interior cismontane southern California to the western slope of the southern Sierra Nevada. It occurs on desert slopes from the western edge of the Colorado Desert and Joshua Tree National Park to Kern County, California. California juniper also occurs in isolated parts of Nevada and Arizona, near their border with California.

Desert holly

A rounded, silvery-gray desert shrub growing a foot and a half to about three feet tall. The light-colored leaves, produced by salt in the plant, are an adaptation to ...


The shrub genus Arctostaphylos, or manzanita, comprises about 50 species, 90% of which are endemic to California and adjacent areas.

California buckwheat

California buckwheat is a native evergreen shrub about 12 to 39 inches high and 28 to 51 inches wide. Branches are numerous, slender and flexible.

Mormon tea

Green ephedra (Mormon tea) is a dioecious, scraggly shrub rarely more than 60 cm to 150 cm high. The naked seeds are the features, which places Ephedra with the classical group, the gymnosperms. The microsporophylls are similar to the stamens of the flowering plant; they also correspond with the spore-bearing scales in the male cone of a pine tree.


Most commonly found in big sagebrush communities with other subspecies of low rabbitbrush.

Yerba mansa

The plants are found in saline or alkaline soil in damp or wet places in many different plant community types, such as valley grassland, saltgrass flats, and desert fan palm oases. The range of the plant is from the Peninsular Ranges, South Coast Ranges and Mojave Desert of California on the south, and north through the Sacramento, San Joaquin Valleys and San Francisco Bay Area.

Yerba santa

Yerba Santa grows below 1600-m elevation on dry rocky hillsides and ridges. It can be found in patches on chaparral slopes, forests, canyons, and along riverbanks. It is abundant in some annual grasslands and oak woodlands. Yerba Santa is often found in disturbed areas and early to mid successional communities.


Indians used this plant to make shafts for arrows because of its long, straight ...

Also see:

Desert Shrub Dominated Habitats

Shrub Dominated Ecosystems

A Shrub-Dominated Habitat is an area with greater than 10% covered by shrub species and less than ...


Cat claw, (acacia greggii)

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