Wild Edible Plants in Southwest Arizona

Wild Edible Plants in Southwest ArizonaThe Sonoran Desert covers the southwest portion of Arizona. You will find little shade, tough plants and blistering heat. If you are lost in southwest Arizona you could face starvation and dehydration. If you hike in the Sonoran desert, you should know which plants may offer food and medicine for use in an emergency.

Prickly Pear

prickly pear

The prickly pear cactus may be the most important plant to know about if you are stranded in the desert. The oval-shaped "leaves," or pads, and the red fruit are edible. After removing the thorns from the leaves you can eat them raw. The fruit of this cactus contains some moisture and the inside is edible. Some varieties produce yellow flowers. The pads may be used as a substitute for treating sunburn. Cut the pad and press the moist inside to the affected skin. Prickly pear cactuses with orange-crossed thorns and unripe fruit are poisonous. Fruits are ripe when bright red.

Barrel Cactus

The barrel cactus looks like a barrel with thorns and bright yellow pineapples on top. Open the fruit and remove the seeds. The flesh is edible and can provide sustenance. The pulp of the barrel-shaped bottom can be used to treat rattlesnake bites.

Creosote Bush (pictured above)

This tall, brown bush has green stems with darker green leaves, and yellow flowers like daffodils.These bright yellow flowers are edible. You can chew or suck on the twigs to relieve thirst. Steeped leaves make a tea used to treat consumption and skin irritations.


The mustard plant isn't commonly found in the Arizona desert, but does grow in some spots. Its seeds make the yellow mustard sitting in your fridge, and the top of the stalk and flowers are also edible. Wild mustard possess delicate four-leaf flowers and thick green stems.

Article Written By Amy L. Gouger

Amy L. Gouger holds a Bachelor of Arts in English from East Stroudsburg University. Previously a technical agent, she now serves as a ghostwriter and contributor to various online publications.

Don't Miss a Thing!

All our latest outdoor content delivered to your inbox once a week.



We promise to keep your email address safe and secure.