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Photos of Desert Flowers -- Spring in the Desert

Updated on April 17, 2013

Desert Blooms -- This Ain't Your Normal Springtime

When I moved to Arizona a few years ago, I was not at all pleased. I choose to make the move to be near my children and grandchildren. That part is fine; it's great! But living in Arizona is nothing I ever planned to do or wanted to do.

One of the biggest drawbacks, of course, is the hot summer temperatures. Although the summers are brutal, there is some relief. The late fall, winter, and early spring are beautiful!

The seasons are skewed to me, but before the long hot summer, we do have springtime. And the desert blooms include more than just the random bloom on a cactus.

The saguaro cactus pictured here has beautiful white blooms and a desert bird perched on top.

Photo Credit: Peggy Hazelwood

White blooms on barrel cactus.
White blooms on barrel cactus.

Cactus, We've Got Cactus

Ca----ac----tus

Yes, Arizona has plenty of cactus. Most of the year these green desert plants stand to attention, their shallow roots ready to suck up any chance of rain, which there isn't much of in these parts.

Like some people, some cactus can be extremely prickly, depending on the type. Like a sharp tongue, the sharp needles keep people at a distance. But come springtime, many cactus begin blooming and the colors are gorgeous. Cactus blooms come in many colors: yellow, orange, pink, red, white, and probably more that I don't know about.

The cactus shown here is a barrel cactus with a rim of red blooms around a center of white blooms that are not yet open. I find it downright fascinating that something so drab can produce such beautiful, colorful flowers.

Photo Credit: Peggy Hazelwood

Arizona Desert Cactus

I think the cactus costume shown below is adorable. Keep it in mind when you need a unique costume for that prickly person in your life!

Organ pipe cactus, Mesa, Arizona.
Organ pipe cactus, Mesa, Arizona.

Organ Pipe Cactus

Tall cactus

The organ pipe cactus is another interesting cactus. This cactus is made up of a bunch of long ribs that sort of look like organ pipes. If you have a really good imagination, that is.

I'm not sure if organ pipe cacti bloom but they are sort of pretty as is.

Photo Credit: Peggy Hazelwood

Prickly pear cactus full of fruit.
Prickly pear cactus full of fruit.

Prickly Pear Cactus

Oh yeah, more cactus

The prickly pear cactus is at least an interesting-looking desert plant. The blooms erupt on the ends (tops) of the pear-shaped.

The fruit of most types of prickly pear cactus can be eaten. They are sold in stores as "tuna." The pads of the prickly pear cactus (the big flat part that the blooms and fruit grow on) are also edible. They also are sold in stores and are called "Nopalito." The glochids (needles) need to be removed before eating the pads. I suppose they are to plants what bones are to meat.

This prickly pear cactus is full of red fruit.

Photo Credit: Peggy Hazelwood

Cactus - Lots of cacti in the desert. (Click a small image to enlarge it.)

Click thumbnail to view full-size
Big bug / ant sculpture at the Desert Botanical Garden, Phoenix, Arizona,  with a mess of saguaro cactus. Photos all by Peggy Hazelwood.Blooming cactus.Big Bug / damselfly sculpture at the Desert Botanical Garden, Phoenix, Arizona, amid the desert landscape.Orange blossom on a prickly pear cactus.Round Queen Anne cactus. This is lovely even though it wasn't blooming. I'm not even sure if it does bloom.Cactus with lovely pink blooms.Prickly pear cactus with white bloom.Prickly pear cactus with orange blooms.
Big bug / ant sculpture at the Desert Botanical Garden, Phoenix, Arizona,  with a mess of saguaro cactus. Photos all by Peggy Hazelwood.
Big bug / ant sculpture at the Desert Botanical Garden, Phoenix, Arizona, with a mess of saguaro cactus. Photos all by Peggy Hazelwood.
Blooming cactus.
Blooming cactus.
Big Bug / damselfly sculpture at the Desert Botanical Garden, Phoenix, Arizona, amid the desert landscape.
Big Bug / damselfly sculpture at the Desert Botanical Garden, Phoenix, Arizona, amid the desert landscape.
Orange blossom on a prickly pear cactus.
Orange blossom on a prickly pear cactus.
Round Queen Anne cactus. This is lovely even though it wasn't blooming. I'm not even sure if it does bloom.
Round Queen Anne cactus. This is lovely even though it wasn't blooming. I'm not even sure if it does bloom.
Cactus with lovely pink blooms.
Cactus with lovely pink blooms.
Prickly pear cactus with white bloom.
Prickly pear cactus with white bloom.
Prickly pear cactus with orange blooms.
Prickly pear cactus with orange blooms.
Wildflowers in the desert.
Wildflowers in the desert.

Desert Wildflowers

Not all desert plants are cactus

The Arizona desert also has plants that are not cactus. See! These wildflowers bloom in the spring.

I took this photo last April. Desert wildflowers are a welcome change from the green cactus.

Photo Credit: Peggy Hazelwood

Pink Oleander with a lone palm tree.
Pink Oleander with a lone palm tree.

Oleander

Lovely but deadly

Oleander is a lovely bush that blooms in pink and white. Many people don't want oleander in their yards because there is a pesky little problem; it's poisonous.

If you've read the book White Oleander by Janet Fitch you know what I mean. If you haven't read it, you really should. Or if you're not a reader, you can watch the movie starring Alison Lohman, Robin Wright Penn, Michelle Pfeiffer, Renee Zellweger, and Billy Connolly.

Photo Credit: Peggy Hazelwood

Edible Desert Plants - Know what you can (and can't) eat!

And Now for Something a Little Different -- Not a Desert Plant but a Desert Critter

And Now for Something a Little Different -- Not a Desert Plant but a Desert Critter
And Now for Something a Little Different -- Not a Desert Plant but a Desert Critter
Bougainvillea against this white wall is gorgeous.
Bougainvillea against this white wall is gorgeous.

Bougainvillea

A beautiful bush

Bougainvillea is a blooming bush that, I have to say, is gorgeous. The red part in the photo is not the flower; those are leaves.

So, this desert plant has green and red leaves. The flower is a tiny white flower inside the red leaves.

Photo Credit: Peggy Hazelwood

More Flowering Desert Plants - The non-cactus crowd (Click a small image to enlarge it.)

Click thumbnail to view full-size
Lantana -- Lovely delicate little flowers. These also come in orange and yellow, which is one of my favorite color combinations, and which can be seen in the last photo of this group of photos!Hollyhocks -- I remember these from growing up in Illinois and love them!White Oleander.Red Hibiscus.Cedar trees reflecting in a canal. They don't bloom but these tall trees are so pretty.Bird of paradise. These are so pretty!Orange blooms. No idea what this plant is.Red/orange and yellow lantana. I like this color variety the best!
Lantana -- Lovely delicate little flowers. These also come in orange and yellow, which is one of my favorite color combinations, and which can be seen in the last photo of this group of photos!
Lantana -- Lovely delicate little flowers. These also come in orange and yellow, which is one of my favorite color combinations, and which can be seen in the last photo of this group of photos!
Hollyhocks -- I remember these from growing up in Illinois and love them!
Hollyhocks -- I remember these from growing up in Illinois and love them!
White Oleander.
White Oleander.
Red Hibiscus.
Red Hibiscus.
Cedar trees reflecting in a canal. They don't bloom but these tall trees are so pretty.
Cedar trees reflecting in a canal. They don't bloom but these tall trees are so pretty.
Bird of paradise. These are so pretty!
Bird of paradise. These are so pretty!
Orange blooms. No idea what this plant is.
Orange blooms. No idea what this plant is.
Red/orange and yellow lantana. I like this color variety the best!
Red/orange and yellow lantana. I like this color variety the best!
Orange tree full of fruit.
Orange tree full of fruit.

Citrus Trees

Grapefruit trees, orange trees, and lemon trees

Citrus trees grow like weeds in the desert. The fragrance they emit in the spring is another perk that makes living in the desert a pleasure.

Right now (mid-March) you can walk outside almost anywhere and breathe in the lovely flowery smell coming from the citrus trees that are full of fruit. Now, that part of living here I like!

Photo Credit: Peggy Hazelwood

Aloe vera plant in bloom.
Aloe vera plant in bloom.

Aloe Vera

Good for you desert plant

The aloe vera plant is a succulent. It comes in many varieties, but only a few varieties offer the beneficial medicinal perks.

The medicinal benefit is mainly as a topical application for burns and to soothe the skin.

Photo Credit: Peggy Hazelwood

Do you have a favorite desert plant?

Agave desert plant.
Agave desert plant.

Vote for your favorite desert plant.

See results

Affiliate Disclosure

This author, Peggy Hazelwood, participates in Amazon, eBay, All Posters, and other affiliate advertising programs. When you click an advertising link on this page and make a purchase, I receive a small percent of the sale. Thank you for reading this far!

Let me know if you like cactus and desert plants.

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    • Pat Goltz profile image

      Pat Goltz 5 years ago

      Your unknown plant in the last photo gallery is a Mexican Bird-of-Paradise, Caesalpinia pulcherrima. I love cactus, desert plants, and all sorts of desert wildflowers. For Lantana, I like the pink and yellow ones. I enjoyed your Lens. Keep on adding and studying! :)

    • Wednesday-Elf profile image

      Wednesday-Elf 5 years ago from Savannah, Georgia

      My uncle lives near Phoenix and I've visited several times. While 'desert life' is not for me, the desert has its own beauty, especially in the Spring when the wildflowers and cactus flowers bloom. Thanks for sharing.

    • Joyce Mann profile image

      Joyce T. Mann 6 years ago from Bucks County, Pennsylvania USA

      My husband grew up in Phoenix. The two of us attended grad school at the U of A in Tucson, so, yeah, we know and love the desert. A favorite desert plant of mine is the creosote bush. It gives off a distinctive scent after a desert rain.

    • profile image

      anonymous 6 years ago

      I have been in AZ for 8 years now and LOVE it! My son likes the cacti although I won't let him near them. lol He corrected me when he was in kindergarten, I said 'cactuses' and was informed it was 'cacti'.

    • profile image

      grega85 6 years ago

      I love them.

    • Pam Irie profile image

      Pam Irie 6 years ago from Land of Aloha

      Your pictures of all the desert flowers are wonderful! We also have bougainviella, bird of paradise, aloe and hibiscus here too. It's truly hard to pick a favorite.

    • Anthony Altorenna profile image

      Anthony Altorenna 6 years ago from Connecticut

      I've grown cactus indoors since I was a kid, and was absolutely in awe the first time that I saw a Saguaro up close. Even though I live in Connecticut, I grow two different species of prickly pear in one of my outdoor gardens.

    • TheAverageOutdo profile image

      TheAverageOutdo 6 years ago

      Great pics.

    • Brandi Bush profile image

      Brandi 6 years ago from Maryland

      How beautiful! Happy Spring! :)

    • profile image

      anonymous 6 years ago

      I love cactus and desert plants but have never seen them in person in their natural habitat...thanks for sharing the beauty and congratulations on Squidoo home page honors!

    • MelRootsNWrites profile image

      Melody Lassalle 6 years ago from California

      I love cactus. It's about all I can grow. We used to have a small one in our yard that flowered regularly.

    • sockii profile image

      Nicole Pellegrini 6 years ago from New Jersey

      Great stuff. Fun to see some different kinds of "spring blooms".

    • MelonyVaughan profile image

      MelonyVaughan 6 years ago

      What a stunning lens! The plants and their blossoms are magnificent!

    • Thrinsdream profile image

      Thrinsdream 6 years ago

      Love them! I have a beautiful Aloe in my bathroom that I not only love but use too! Great article (love the bug!) With thanks and appreciation. Cathi x

    • Ribolov LM profile image

      Ribolov LM 6 years ago

      Nice lens, great pictures and a lot of good informations. Thnx for this lens!

    • profile image

      AnimalHouse 6 years ago

      I didn't think cactus would have flowers, I always thought they would be the usual green prickly ones. They are beautiful! Thanks for sharing.

    • gottaloveit2 profile image

      gottaloveit2 6 years ago

      Congrats on the front page, Peggy. And, well done. My folks had a gorgeous prickly pear cactus in their front yard in sun city. I used to love to see it bloom. I was in Phoenix one time in the spring when there was SNOW on the desert flowers. I wish I could find those pictures.

    • profile image

      mogulmedia 6 years ago

      Wish I lived closer to the Desert Gardens!

    • yayas profile image

      yayas 6 years ago

      We used to live in High Desert in California an' we tried canning Prickly Pear Cactus Jelly. We were not successful at it, but it was a fun experience... if you don't count the prickles that kept finding our skin. :)

      Congratulations on making the front page!

    • profile image

      anonymous 6 years ago

      We have a few tiny cactus planted in a round bowl inside the house. (Isn't that funny)! Can't imagine being surrounded by so many different types of cactus. It was really interesting learning more about them. Happy Fragrance Day!

    • ferginarg lm profile image

      ferginarg lm 6 years ago

      Cactus plants are awesome fun, as a youngster I had hundreds in a glass house collection. Now I live in Argentina and they're considered bad luck by many so my wife won't let any in the house which is such a shame, but here like the US there's a lot of the country where they grow wild which is amazing to see. Thanks for a cool lens!

    • profile image

      getmoreinfo 6 years ago

      This is a great lens I like the information and will be coming back to read more of your work.

    • profile image

      Norgeskatalogen 6 years ago

      Can't tell how many times I've used Aloe Vera due to sunburn. What an excellent plant :) Find norwegian plants here

    • fivee05 lm profile image

      fivee05 lm 6 years ago

      My mother likes cactus. Lovely pictures.

    • profile image

      lifebroker-australia 6 years ago

      Love cactus - coming from Coachella Valley I do have a an obsession with them.

    • profile image

      SteveKaye 6 years ago

      I like cactus flowers because they are easy to photograph. They stay still even when there is a breeze.

    • dahlia369 profile image

      dahlia369 6 years ago

      I love lantanas, oleanders and Bouganvilleas, they all do really well in Central Florida as well. Nice lens!! :)

    • intermarks profile image

      intermarks 6 years ago

      Very nice to get to know what are the desert plants. I have seen some of the flower like Bougainvillea but never see Lantana before.

    • profile image

      anonymous 6 years ago

      I don't like cactus and desert plants except aloe vera, but I do like this lens. Good job. God bless!

    • Joan Haines profile image

      Joan Haines 6 years ago

      "Squid Angel blessed."

    • Joan Haines profile image

      Joan Haines 6 years ago

      I like 'em a lot. I used to see them as a child when we'd take trips from our California home to Arizona.

    • Nancy Hardin profile image

      Nancy Carol Brown Hardin 6 years ago from Las Vegas, NV

      I'm familiar with all these plants, having lived in Las Vegas since 1972. When I first moved here, I couldn't see the beauty but after a few years I realized there were lovely wildflowers, cactus, and other plants that thrive in this climate. I enjoyed this lens and thanks for sharing.

    • LisaDH profile image

      LisaDH 6 years ago

      I never knew oleander was poisonous. It's planted down the median of many California highways and I love looking at it. It may be poisonous, but it's sure beautiful. :-)

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