Ecoregion Insights | American Semi-desert and Desert Province

Photo © Esri, HERE, Garmin, FAO, USGS

ECOREGIONS connect you to other places with similar weather, plants, and geographic conditions. These are important considerations when planning a wildlife garden or trying to understand how a place you live, work, or enjoy fits into the bigger picture.

American Semi-desert and Desert Province

Southeastern California, southwestern Arizona, southern Nevada, 87,700 mi2 (227,100 km2)

The American Desert includes the Mojave, Colorado, and Sonoran Deserts. Its topography is characterized by extensive plains, most gently undulating, from which isolated low mountains and buttes rise abruptly. Vegetation is usually very sparse, with bare ground between individual plants. Cacti and thorny shrubs are conspicuous, but many thornless shrubs and herbs are also present. On the Sonoran Desert plains, the most widely distributed plant is the creosote bush, which covers extensive areas in nearly pure stands. On some parts of the plains the arborescent cacti (cholla) are also common. Mesquite is less widespread and grows only along washes and watercourses.

Adapted from Description of the Ecoregions of the United States


Some important native plants in your region include:

Honey Mesquite (Prosopis glandulosa)

Creosote (Larrea tridentata)

White tidytips (Layia glandulosa)

Looking for more plant recommendations specific to your ecoregion? Check out the Pollinator Partnership’s Ecoregion Guides for a great list of plants important to pollinators.

Saharan mustard (Brassica tournefortii)

Photo © Kerry Woods

Each ecoregion seems to have one or more exotic species that end up being invasive in the region. These plants can cause a variety of concerns from choking out waterways, to changing the character of the forest floor.

Do you have it around?

Pictured above is one invasive of concern in this region, Saharan mustard (Brassica tournefortii).

Desert Tortoise (Gopherus morafkai)

Photo © Johnida Dockens

One threatened animal in your region that you might benefit with your conservation actions is the desert tortoise (Gopherus morafkai) pictured above.

Getting to know your ecoregion can help you choose plants and understand critical issues in your region that may help you shape your landscaping choices.

A major conservation issue in this region is minimizing water use to ensure fair access to this resource. Read more about how to save water . . .