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Acacia smallii

Desert Southwest native often sold as A. farnesiana, which is cold tender. Plant A. smallii where frost occurs. Deciduous tree of variable height, reaching 10–35 ft., spread...

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Ferocactus wislizenii

Fishhook Barrel Cactus

Native to Arizona, Texas, and Mexico. Grows to 8–9 ft. tall and 3 ft. wide, with yellow or yellow-edged red flowers in summer.

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Pinus cembroides

Mexican Piñon Pine

Native from Arizona to Baja California and Northern Mexico. Slow grower to 10–25 ft. tall and nearly as wide. Rangy in youth, but older trees develop stout, spreading branches that form a round head. Dark green needles 1–2 in. long are grouped in twos or threes. Cones are 1–2 in. long, rounded, and yellowish or reddish brown.

Good choice in desert. Cones contain edible seeds (pine nuts).

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Aromatic mint-family perennials native to California and adjacent states. Typically sprawling, with two-lipped flowers in clusters at stem ends. All require excellent drainage. Use in wild gardens ...

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Robinia x ambigua


A hybrid between R. pseudoacacia and R. viscosa, this seldom-grown, pink-flowering locust grows to 40 ft. tall and nearly as wide. Its varieties are better known.


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Prickly Poppy

Native to central and North America. Prickly-leafed and prickly-stemmed plants to 3 ft. tall and 1 1/2 ft. wide, with large, showy poppies that bloom mainly in summer. Easy to grow from seeds sown in place or in containers (transplant gently). Will reseed and colonize. Provide good drainage. Seed specialists may offer other species.

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Pinus halepensis

Aleppo Pine

Native to the Mediterranean region. Grows at a moderate to fast rate to 30–60 ft. tall and 20–40 ft. wide. Already shows rugged character at 5 years; in age, has open, irregular crown of many short, ascending branches. Light green needles 2 1/2–4 in. long are usually grouped in twos. Reddish brown cones are 3 in. long, oval to oblong, stalked and bent backward.

Takes poor soils, desert heat, and seashore conditions, but better trees can be found for milder climates

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Pinus mugo uncinata

Swiss Mountain Pine

From the mountains of Spain and central Europe to the Balkans, this is slow growing and highly variable in size. May be a prostrate shrub, low shrub, or pyramidal tree of moderate size (30–80...

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Dypsis decaryi

Triangle Palm

Slow-growing, single-trunked palm reaches 18–20 ft. tall, 12–15 ft. wide. Trunk is triangular in cross section because heavily keeled leafstalks grow in three ranks about the stem. Gray...

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Genista tinctoria (photo courtesy of Denver Botanic Gardens)



The various species are native to central, southern, and eastern Europe. Leaves are often small and short-lived. Green branches give these deciduous plants an evergreen look. Flowers are yellow (ra...

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Cercocarpus betuloides


Native to dry foothills below 6,000-ft. elevation in southwestern Oregon, California, and northern Baja California. Generally shrubby, 5–12 ft. high and wide. Can form a small tree with a wid...

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Cinnamomum camphora (photo courtesy of MAP/Nicole et Patrick Mioulane/Garden World Images)

Cinnamomum camphora

Camphor Tree

Native to China and Japan. Grows slowly to 50 ft. or taller and 60 ft. wide. Typically a strong-structured tree with a heavy trunk and heavy, upright, spreading limbs. Beautiful in the rain, when t...

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