What Kind of Plants Grow in the Desert?

The types of plants that grow in the desert include various forms of cacti, low-lying plants like yucca and agave, and trees like verdes and palms. While classified differently, these plants share characteristics that help them survive in the rough desert climate.

The desert provides a difficult environment for plants to grow. The temperature range can be extreme, especially in deserts with varying levels of elevation. Additionally, deserts receive little rainfall and, when experiencing heavy rain, are prone to flooding.

Cacti are one of the plants most associated with deserts. Recognizable by their many protective spikes, some species grow flowers and edible fruits. To conserve water, most cacti have a fine root structure in which the roots stay near the surface. Some notable cactus types include the barrel and saguaro.

One of the trees that grows in the desert is the Joshua tree. This tree is located in the Mojave Desert and can reach heights of 40 feet, making it the largest of the yucca plants. Despite species like the Joshua tree, bush-like plants are more common in deserts. These bushes are characterized by small leaves and their low-lying nature, both to conserve water. A common bush in the American Southwest is the creosote bush.