Arizona Game and FIsh Department - Managing Today for Wildlife Tomorrow: Arizona Game and Fish Department

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Small Shrubs: Landscaping for Desert Wildlife

These small shrubs provide leaves, flowers and seeds as food for wildlife. They can also serve as hiding places from predators.

Four-wing Saltbush (Atriplex canescens) Erect, many-branched, gray-green shrub with golden clusters of winged fruit in late summer. Evergreen, no thorns, moderately slow grower, 3 to 6 feet tall. Good shelter for wildlife. Seeds eaten by quail, doves, towhees, jackrabbits, finches and ground squirrels. Foliage provides nutritious browse.

Fairy Duster (Calliandra eriophylla)
Fairy Duster (Calliandra eriophylla)

Fairy Duster (Calliandra eriophylla) Low-growing, dark green shrub with pink flower clusters in spring and fall. 1 to 3 feet tall. Sometimes spreads by underground stems. Sheds leaves in cold winters, no thorns. Seeds eaten by quail, doves, desert rodents in summer; flowers attract hummingbirds. Deer love foliage and twigs.

Brittlebush (Encelia farinosa) Low, rounded shrub with gray-green to silvery leaves. Abundant, yellow, daisy-like flowers held above the foliage in spring. Fast-growing to 3 feet tall,
4 feet or more wide. Evergreen, no thorns. Sparrows, finches and desert rodents eat abundant seeds in late spring and early summer. Lizards and other small animals find shelter under the canopy.

Bush Dalea (Dalea pulchra)
Bush Dalea (Dalea pulchra)

Bush Dalea (Dalea pulchra) Silvery-green shrub covered with rose-purple flowers in spring. Up to 5 feet tall. Evergreen, no thorns. Seeds provide food for rodents and birds in summer.

Chuparosa (Justicia californica) Also known as honeysuckle. Medium green shrub with masses of tubular red flowers in spring and fall and sporadically through rest of year. 3 to 6 feet tall. May shed leaves during drought, but stems remain green, no thorns. Looks nice planted under Paloverde and allowed to climb through branches. Flowers attractive to hummingbirds.

Jojoba (Simmondsia chinensis) Dense gray-green foliage; compact, rounded form. 3 to 6 feet tall, sometimes wider. Makes good hedge or screen. Evergreen, no thorns, grows slowly. Leaves and twigs browsed by deer; nuts on female plants eaten by javelina, deer and ground squirrels in summer.

Ruellia (californica, R. peninsularis)
Ruellia (Ruellia californica or R. peninsularis)

Ruellia (Ruellia californica or R. peninsularis) Bright green, much-branched shrub with abundant blue to purple flowers most of the year. 2 to 4 feet tall. Evergreen, no thorns. Tolerates partial shade, takes trimming well. Good cover for lizards and other small animals.



Landscaping Information
- Landscaping Home
- The Wildlife-friendly Garden
- Trees
- Tall Shrubs
- Small Shrubs
- Cacti and Succulents
- Flowers and Grasses
- Plant List for Planning
- Reading List
Related Information
- Living with Urban Wildlife
External Resources [More]
- Desert Botanical Garden
- Arizona Native Plant Society’s Invasive non-native landscape plants information
- Arizona Municipal Water Users Association information about conserving water while landscaping
- Tucson Botanical Gardens
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