Identifying Desert Plants

Identifying Desert PlantsTaking a day hike through arid regions may sound like it is a trip through a barren wilderness, but nothing could be further from the truth. The desert actually teems with life and there are plentiful wild flowers and desert plants that call these somewhat inhospitable realms their homes. Read on and learn about identifying desert plants that you might run across during your desert outing. In some cases, these plants may also make for an exciting and unusual meal or a life-saving snack in the case of wilderness survival.

Look for Drosanthemum Speciosum Ice Plants (pictured top)

Find patches of glistening Drosanthemum Speciosum and other related ice plants in the arid regions of Texas, Arizona, California and elsewhere. The ice plants are succulents, and some species' leaves may be used in salads. Identify this desert plant by its thick leaves that glisten as if dew were present on them. Bright colored flowers erupt in the late spring and last until the middle of summer. These ice plants tend to take over entire patches.

Notice the Telltale Shapes of Atriplex Hymenelytra

Take a close look at Atriplex Hymenelytra, also known as desert holly, and you will be struck just how much this plant looks like the Christmas holly you are most likely accustomed to. Desert holly grows as a shrub and, while the Christmas holly is of a hunter green color, this desert plant is silver gray. Trips into the deserts of Nevada, Utah, California and Arizona will bring you face to face with this plant.

Find Plentiful Opuntia

prickly pear

You can easily locate members of the Opuntia family. These cacti present in various species and are situated in the arid and semi-arid regions throughout the United States. You might know Opuntia plants under the names of prickly pears (pictured above), paddle cacti and nopali plants. The tender leaves make great food items---as long as the spines are carefully removed---as do the fruits of the cactus. Some Opuntia subspecies provide medicinal qualities, such as soothing of gastrointestinal upset.

Article Written By Sylvia Cochran

Based in the Los Angeles area, Sylvia Cochran is a seasoned freelance writer focusing on home and garden, travel and parenting articles. Her work has appeared in "Families Online Magazine" and assorted print and Internet publications.

The Latest from the Community

This is a agreeable & interesting State Park & hike. The ocean has flooded a clef along the San Andreas Fault to...
I was a little confused where to park but once we found the trail next to the covered bridge, it was so beautiful...
Nice, pleasurable ride. Many birds and iguanas to see.