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Plant Lists

This guide organizes, categorizes and provides information about plants from the Maricopa Native Seed Library.

Brittlebush (Encelia farinosa var phenicodonta)

Other common names:  Goldhills, White Brittlebush (Spanish: Rama Blanca, Incienso, Hierba del Bazo, Hierba [rama] del Bazo, Hierba de Las Animas, Palo Blanco, Hierba Ceniza)

Difficulty level (when grown from seed):  Easy

Monarch butterfly nectaring at a brittlebush

Brittlebush, by Danielle Carlock. 

 

Common, extremely drought tolerant shrub   

TYPE SIZE FLOWERS GERMINATION CARE WILDLIFE BENEFITS
OTHER CAUTIONS

Shrub

3'X4'

Yellow
(Mar-May;
other times
after rain)

Direct sow or scatter in Spring

Full sun; very low water once established

Nectar, attracts butterflies and bees; birds eat seeds

 

Prolific reseeder, so once you have one you will likely get many others.

Seed was collected from the variety with brown flower centers, but some of the offspring may have yellow centers (the more common form of brittlebush)

Dormant in summer

Don’t provide too much water or can be invaded by aphids

Recommended use in the landscape: Place in a hot sunny part of the yard; can be used as a background plant; pairs well with red flowered plants such as Chuparosa (Justicia californica) or succulents and cacti.

For further information

Irish, Mary. 2006. Perennials for the Southwest. Portland, OR: Timber Press.

Native North American Plant database, Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center, 2020. Encelia farinosa profile.  

SEINet. 2020. Encelia farinosa profile.  

Southwest Desert Flora, 2020. Encelia farinosa profile

                                                          

 

 

Desert Globemallow (Sphaeralcea ambigua)

 

Other common names: Apricot Globe-mallow, Apricot Mallow, Desert Mallow, Globe mallow, Sore-eye Poppy, (Spanish: Mal de Ojo, Malva)

Difficulty level (when grown from seed): Easy  

 Pink flowered globe mallowOrange flowered globe mallow

Globe mallows, by Danielle Carlock. 

A very easy care plant that supports pollinators while providing beauty; a must have

TYPE SIZE FLOWERS GERMINATION CARE WILDLIFE BENEFITS EDIBLE OTHER CAUTIONS

Shrub

3'X3'

Usually orange, but shades of pink, red, white, and lavender also possible
(Feb-Nov)

Direct sow in Fall

Full sun, very low water once established   

Special value to native bees, host plant for several species of butterflies and moths, nectar source

No

Reseeds in favorable conditions

Long bloom time

 

None

Recommended use in the landscape: Plant in full sun areas of the garden, especially those that don’t have supplemental water. Pairs well with succulents/cacti or place in the backdrop of a wildflower garden. One of the best parts about growing this plant is finding seedlings that emerge and flower in a different color than the original plant. Older plants can be woody and unattractive, so pulling these to make more room for the new seedlings will keep things looking fresh.

For further information

Native North American Plant database, Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center, 2020. Sphaeralcea ambigua profile

SEINet. 2020. Sphaeralcea ambigua profile.  

Southwest Desert Flora, 2020. Sphaeralcea ambigua profile.    

 

                                                         

 

 

 

 

Desert Honeysuckle (Anisacanthus thurberi)

Other common names: Thurber's desert honeysuckle, Thurber's Desert-Honeysuckle, buckbrush, (Spanish: Cola de gallo, 
Chuparrosa, Colegallo, Chuparosa)

Difficulty level (when grown from seed): Unknown

 Desert Honeysuckle in bloom against a canyon wall

    Desert Honeysuckle, by Jeny Davis. Used with permission

 

Beautiful shrub that will attract hummingbirds to your yard

TYPE SIZE FLOWERS GERMINATION CARE WILDLIFE BENEFITS EDIBLE OTHER CAUTIONS

Shrub

4'X3'

Red/orange
(Mar-May, longer with rains)

Unknown

Full sun, low water once established

Nectar source, hummingbird pollinated, host plant for Elada checkerspot butterflies

No

Drops leaves in winter

None

Recommended use in the landscape:  Lends a tropical feel to the garden; plant near patios or other areas where the hummingbirds it attracts can be enjoyed. Also can be considered for a low naturalistic hedge (don't shear), but keep in mind that it will go dormant (leafless in winter).
 

For further information

Native North American Plant database, Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center, 2020. Anisacanthus thurberi profile.  

SEINet. 2020. Anisacanthus thurberi profile.   

Southwest Desert Flora, 2020. Anisacanthus thurberi profile.  

 

 

 

Desert Rosemallow (Hibiscus coulteri)

Other common names:  Coulter Hibiscus, Desert Hibiscus; (Spanish: Tulipán, Hibisco)

Difficulty level:  Easy

 Desert rosemallow in bloom

Desert rosemallow, by Andrewtree.  

 

A native hibiscus of Arizona, often unnoticed until it blooms

TYPE SIZE FLOWERS GERMINATION CARE WILDLIFE BENEFITS EDIBLE OTHER CAUTIONS

Shrub

 3'X3'

Yellow with reddish center
(Mar-Nov)

Direct sow or scatter

Full or partial sun, low water once established

Nectar, host plant for grey hairstreak butterfly, yellow scallop moth, and various geometer moths    

No

Reseeds in the landscape in favorable conditions.

Not generally available at nurseries

Cut back nearly to the base each winter to encourage a bushier habit and more blooms

None

Recommended use in the landscape:  Since desert rosemallow has a tall straggly growth form, plant it near the back of the garden.

For further information

Native North American Plant database, Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center, 2020. Hibiscus coulteri profile

SEINet. 2020. Hibiscus coulteri profile.  

Southwest Desert Flora. 2020. Hibiscus coulteri profile.   

Spadefoot Nursery. 2020. Shrub selection guide.  

 

Hooker's Evening Primrose (Oenothera elata)

Other common names:   Western Primrose

Difficulty level (when grown from seed): Easy

 

Hooker's Evening Primrose

Danielle Carlock,  

 

This uncommonly grown plant provides much wildlife value, especially to pollinators and lends a wetland type feel to the landscape.

TYPE SIZE FLOWERS GERMINATION CARE WILDLIFE BENEFITS EDIBLE OTHER CAUTIONS

Shrub

5'X2' (can be much taller)

Yellow/orange

(Jun-Oct)

Direct sow or scatter in Fall

Partial sun, medium water

Special value to Native bees, birds eat seeds, nectar source, pollinated by white lined sphinx moth which may also use the plant as a host

Roots, shoots and leaves are edible

 Biennial, living two years but will reseed in favorable conditions.

Flowers open at night and are fragrant

Not generally available at nurseries

None

Recommended use in the landscape:   Because of its height, plant in the back of the garden, possibly against a wall.
Would also fit in well as a poolside, pond or other wetland planting, as it is naturally found by streamsides. Make sure to provide partial shade and moist well draining soil.

 

For further information

Facciola. S. 1990. Cornucopia: A Source Book of Edible Plants. Ann Arbor, MI: Kampong Publications.

Native North American Plant database, Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center, 2020. Oenothera elata profile.

SEINet. 2020. Oenothera elata profile.

 

 

 

Odora (Porophyllum gracile)

Other common names:   Slender Poreleaf, Yerba del Venadov (Spanish: Hierba del Venado)

Difficulty level:  Easy

   Odora plant

                  Odora, by Jeny Davis. Used with permission. 

 

Uncommon in gardens but an important wildlife plant

TYPE SIZE FLOWERS GERMINATION CARE WILDLIFE BENEFITS EDIBLE OTHER CAUTIONS

Shrub

2'X2'

White/Purple
(Mar-Oct)

Direct sow or scatter

Full or partial sun, low water once established

Host plant for Dainty Sulphur butterfly and several species of owlet moths; nectar

No

Not generally available at nurseries

Has a fragrance some like and some do not, but fragrance does not carry from the plant

Recommended use in the landscape:  Blends well with other native plants including cacti and succulents.

For further information

Native North American Plant database, Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center, 2020. Porophyllum gracile profile.  

SEINet. 2020.  Porophyllum gracile profile.  

Southwestern Desert Flora, 2020. Porophyllum gracile profile 

 

 

 

 

Pelotazo (Abutilon incanum)

Other common names: Indian Mallow, Shrubby Indian Mallow, Hoary abutilon

Difficulty level (when grown from seed): Unknown (see below)

 

Pelatazo plant

Pelotazo, by Danielle Carlock. 

Uncommon in home landscapes but common in the Sonoran desert with multihued blooms that attract pollinators

TYPE SIZE FLOWERS GERMINATION CARE WILDLIFE BENEFITS EDIBLE OTHER CAUTIONS

Shrub

4'X4'

Orange/
yellow w/
red centers
(Mar-Oct)

Unknown, possibly
slight scarification
and then direct sow

Full sun, low water once established   

Nectar, host plant for several species of skipper butterflies and Bird dropping moth, Owlet moth, Crambid seed moth

No

Not generally available at nurseries

None

Recommended use in the landscape:  Plant where you can enjoy the intricate blooms, but also in a location that doesn’t necessarily receive a lot of water or other attention. Would pair well with purple colored flowers such as sages and verbenas.

For further information

Native North American Plant database, Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center, 2020. Abutilon incanum profile.  

SEINet. 2020. Abutilon incanum profile.    

 

                                                           

 

 

 

 

 

Pink Fairy Duster (Calliandra eriophylla)

Other common names: Fairy Duster, False Mesquite, Hairy-Leaved Calliandra, Mock Mesquite, Mesquitella, Pink-flowered Acacia, Pink Mimosa, Stickpea (Spanish: Huajillo, Mezquitillo, Cosahui, Pelo de Angel, Cabeza de Angel)

Difficulty level (when grown from seed):  Medium

 

Pink fairy duster plant

Pink fairy duster, by Danielle Carlock. 

 

Pink feather ball-like flowers are unique and attract a variety of wildlife 

TYPE SIZE FLOWERS GERMINATION CARE WILDLIFE BENEFITS EDIBLE OTHER CAUTIONS

Shrub

4'X4'

Pink
(Apr-Jun)

Scarification can speed germination; then directly sow or scatter

 

Full sun; low water once established

Nectar, host plant for Ceranus blue and Marine blue butterflies, Melipotis moths, birds eat seeds, hummingbird pollinated

No

N/A

Flowers have a strong odor that many find unpleasant

Recommended use in the landscape:  Because it attracts hummingbirds, you might want to plant where you can see it but not necessarily smell it, due to the rather unpleasant odor when blooming. Pairs well with cacti or succulents.

For further information

Native North American Plant database, Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center, 2020. Calliandra eriophylla profile.  

SEINet. 2020. Calliandra eriophylla profile.  

Southwest Desert Flora, 2020. Calliandra eriophylla profile

                                                          

 

 

 

 

Pink Perezia (Acourtia wrightii)

Other common names:  Wright’s desert peony, Brownfoot

Difficulty level:  Easy

 

Pink perezia in bloom

Pink perezia, by Danielle Carlock. 

Beautiful, fragrant shrub not often found in landscapes that’s a butterfly attractor

TYPE SIZE FLOWERS GERMINATION CARE WILDLIFE BENEFITS EDIBLE OTHER CAUTIONS

Shrub

3'X3'

Pink/White (Mar-Nov)

Direct sow anytime, no pretreatment required

Partial sun, moderate water   

Nectar

No

Not generally available at nurseries

Fragrant flowers

Long bloomer

None

Recommended use in the landscape: Plant under a tree where it will get filtered shade, such as Palo Verde or Ironwood

For further information

Native North American Plant database, Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center, 2020. Acourtia wrightii profile.  

SEINet. 2020. Acourtia wrightii profile.  

Southwest Desert Flora, 2020. Acourtia wrightii profile.  

 

 

 

Rough Sweetbush (Bebbia juncea var aspera)

Other common names: Chuckwalla’s delight

Difficulty level:  Easy

Rough sweetbush in flower

Rough sweetbush, by Jeny Davis. Used with permission. 

 

Overlooked for the landscape and not available at most nurseries but packs a powerful punch for wildlife

TYPE SIZE FLOWERS GERMINATION CARE WILDLIFE BENEFITS EDIBLE OTHER CAUTIONS

Shrub

3'X3'

 

Yellow
(Apr-Jul)

No pretreatment; direct sow or scatter

Low water, Full or partial sun

Nectar attracts bees and butterflies. Host plant for Wright’s metalmark butterfly, Tiger moth and Tortrix moth. Birds and small mammals eat seeds. Attracts chuckwallas

No

Fragrant

Not generally available at nurseries

None

Recommended use in the landscape: Because it attracts many butterflies place in a location where it can be viewed.

For further information

Native North American Plant database, Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center, 2020. Bebbia juncea profile.  

SEINet. 2020. Bebbia juncea profile.  

Southwest Desert Flora, 2020. Bebbia wrightii profile.  

 

                                                          

 

 

 

 

Rush Milkweed (Asclepias subulata)

Other common names: Cane Milkweed, Desert Milkweed; (Spanish: Jumete, Yamate, Candelilla Bronca, Ajamete, Talayote)

Difficulty level (when grown from seed): Easy

 

Monarch butterfly emerging from chrysalis on a Desert Milkweed plant

Monarch emerging from chrysalis on rush milkweed, Danielle Carlock. 

 

Easy care, important Monarch/Queen butterfly plant  

TYPE SIZE FLOWERS GERMINATION CARE WILDLIFE BENEFITS EDIBLE OTHER CAUTIONS
Shrub

 

4'X3'

White
(Apr-Dec)

Soak seeds in warm tap water for 24 to 48 hours before planting

Full sun, low water once established (young plants need more water than expected, especially in summer)  

Special Value to Native Bees, bumblebees, honey bees and supports biological control, host plant for Monarch and Queen butterflies, nectar, host for Milkweed tussock tiger moth

No

This plant is very sculptural; makes a nice focal point.

All milkweeds are poisonous; sap can irritate skin

Recommended use in the landscape: Mass for stunning effect and to help butterflies locate the plant.

For further information:

Native North American Plant database, Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center, 2020. Asclepias subulata profile.  

SEINet. 2020. Asclepias subulata profile.    

Southwest Desert Flora, 2020. Asclepias subulata profile.   

 

                                                         

 

 

 

Sugar Sumac (Rhus ovata)

Other common names: Mountain Laurel, Sugar Bush (Spanish: Lentisco)

Difficulty level (when grown from seed):  Medium

  

Sugar sumac bush

Sugar Sumac, by efmer 

 

TYPE SIZE FLOWERS GERMINATION CARE WILDLIFE BENEFITS EDIBLE

Shrub

10'X10',can be larger if given supplemental water

White (Mar-May)

Soak in tap water 24 hours and immediately sow the seeds that swell. Boil the rest in water and cool immediately. Plant those that swell.

 

Full or partial sun, low water  

Special value to native bees, nectar source, food for many birds and mammals

 

Berries are edible, and can be used to make “sumac  lemonade”

Recommended use in the landscape:  This beautiful evergreen shrub can be used as a hedge since it retains it’s leaves all year and remains green even during the hottest summers. Its lushness lends a surprising and unexpected touch to a Sonoran desert landscape, even though it is a native here

For further information

SEINet. 2020. Rhus ovata profile

Southwest Desert Flora. 2020. Rhus ovata profile

 

Superstition Mallow (Abutilon palmeri)

Other common names:  Palmer's Indian Mallow, Indian Mallow, Palmer Indian Mallow  

Difficulty level: Easy

 Superstition mallow in bloom

Abutilon palmeri, by Sue Carnahan. 

 

Unique apricot colored leaves and velvety heart shaped flowers  

TYPE SIZE FLOWERS GERMINATION CARE WILDLIFE BENEFITS EDIBLE OTHER CAUTIONS

Shrub

3'X3' 

Apricot
(Mar-May, and again with monsoon rains)

Direct sow or scatter 

Full sun, low water once established   

Nectar and host plant to several species of skipper butterflies

No

Reseeds in the landscape

None

Recommended use in the landscape: With its soft appearance it contrasts nicely with cacti and succulents. Also contrasts nicely with purple flowered plants such as Sages.           

 

For further information

SEINet. 2020. Abutilon palmeri profile.   

Southwest Desert Flora, 2020. Abutilon palmeri profile.  

 

                                                         

 

  

 

 

Wild Cotton (Gossypium thurberi)

Other common names: Algodoncillo, Thurber's Cotton

Difficulty level (when grown from seed): Unknown

 

Wild Cotton, by Danielle Carlock. 

 

   The Sonoran desert’s wild cotton, a handsome, unique shrub for the landscape

TYPE SIZE FLOWERS GERMINATION CARE WILDLIFE BENEFITS OTHER 

Shrub

6'X6' or taller

Cream/pale yellow (Aug-Oct)

 Unknown

Full or partial sun; low water once established

Nectar, host for several species of moths, bee pollinated

Winter deciduous

Not generally available at nurseries

Recommended use in the landscape:  Plant in an area that receives afternoon shade in summer, perhaps near patios or seating areas to enjoy the showy flowers

For further information

Native North American Plant database, Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center, 2020. Gossypium thurberi profile

SEINet. 2020. Gossypium thurberi profile