31 Most Common Trees in Arizona

Arizona is home to some of the most beautiful trees you’ll find in North America. From saguaros to ponderosa pines, Arizona’s diverse landscapes are filled with plenty of different species of trees.

Many people might have the impression that Arizona is dry, arid state where nothing will ever grow. In reality, there are a variety of trees and plants that can be found in the Grand Canyon State.

While a large number of these trees live within the bounds of our national parks, many still remain outside their protected borders. These non-protected areas make up a large portion of Arizona’s landscape and hold their own unique beauty.

So what are some of these trees you might come across in the desert? I compiled this list of the most common trees found in Arizona. See if you can identify them all!

1. Saguaro (carnegiea gigantea)

Saguaros
Katja Schulz Saguaros

The saguaro cactus is a common plant in the Sonoran Desert of Arizona. This iconic cactus has a tan, ridged body and arms that grow up to ten feet long!

These plants can grow up to forty feet tall and live for about 200 years before blooming. If you’re near Tucson, check out the Saguaro National Park!

2. Palo Verde (parkinsonia)

Palo Verde
Ron Mader Palo Verde

Palo Verde is a deciduous tree that can grow up to sixty feet tall. The tree has a green trunk and branches with small, purplish-green leaves. This tree is well known for its bright yellow flowers during the spring months.

It’s a great tree for desert landscapes, because it is well adapted to dry conditions. You can find this tree all over Arizona!

Related: Flowering trees in Arizona

3. Joshua Tree (yucca brevifolia)

Joshua Tree
BriYYZ Joshua Tree

Joshua trees are a small type of yucca plant that typically grow in the southwestern part of the U.S., but also found throughout central and southern Arizona.

The Joshua tree is famous for its sharply pointed, lance-like leaves and stout stem. This desert plant is best known for its creamy white flowers that bloom in the spring months.

You’ll find this tree throughout the Sonoran Desert in Arizona!

4. Cat’s Claw Acacia (senegalia greggii)

Senegalia Acacia greggii Catsclaw Acacia
Laura Camp Senegalia (Acacia) greggii – Catsclaw Acacia

Cat’s Claw Acacia is a type of shrub that grows up to thirty feet tall and has brownish-black spines along its trunk. The branches and leaves are green and feathery.

You’ll only find Cat’s Claw Acacia in the desert regions of Arizona, because its seeds need a hot and dry climate to germinate.

5. California Fan Palm (chrysalidocarpus lutescens)

california fan palm
bobistraveling california fan palm

This medium-sized tree can grow up to forty feet tall. It has a smooth, pale bark with spiny margins along the stems. The leaves are long and fan-shaped, which is how it gets its name.

The California Fan Palm prefers hot, dry climates. You’ll often find these palms in the Mohave Desert of central Arizona!

Related: Best palm trees for Arizona

6. Velvet Mesquite (Prosopis velutina)

Velvet Mesquite
Homer Edward Price Velvet Mesquite

This spiny tree can grow up to twenty feet tall and has a pale trunk. The leaves are green and narrow, while the flowers are small and yellow.

Mesquite trees grow throughout Arizona’s desert regions, especially around riverbeds. Mesquite beans are often used to make all-natural barbecue sauce!

7. Chinaberry Tree (melia azedarach)

Melia azedarach Chinaberry
Forest and Kim Starr Melia azedarach (Chinaberry)

The Chinaberry tree is another well-known plant in Arizona. This fast-growing, deciduous tree has smooth bark and an umbrella shape. The leaves are dark green and the flowers are white to purple in color.

The Chinaberry tree prefers warm, moist regions. It’s often found in areas with limestone soils or along riverbeds.

8. Desert Ironwood  (olneya tesota)

The Desert Ironwood is a small, evergreen tree that can reach up to thirty feet tall. The trunk of this plant has a gray, crumbly bark and the leaves are shiny green in color.

This tree is famous for its edible black seeds! It prefers hot and dry climates with rocky soils near mountains or hillsides.

9. Screwbean Mesquite (prosopis pubescens)

Screwbean mesquite
Andrey Zharkikh Screwbean mesquite

The Screwbean Mesquite is a type of mesquite tree that grows in desert regions of central and southern Arizona. This deciduous plant has gray bark and feathery leaves.

You’ll find these trees with yellow flowers blooming during the spring months. The Mojave Desert has plenty of them!

10. White Thorn Acacia (acacia constricta)

Acacia constricta
Karl Wimmi Acacia constricta

This spiny shrub grows up to twelve feet tall and has yellow flowers that bloom during the spring. The branches can grow into long thorns, which is where it gets its name.

The White Thorn Acacia prefers hot and dry climates, as well as rocky areas. They’re common throughout Arizona’s desert regions!

11. Netleaf Hackberry (celtis laevigata var. reticulata)

Netleaf hackberry Celtis reticulata syn. Celtis occidentalis var. reticulata
Andrey Zharkikh Netleaf hackberry (Celtis reticulata syn. Celtis occidentalis var. reticulata)

This short, deciduous tree has gray bark and leaves that resemble maple leaves. You’ll see these trees in central and southern Arizona, as well as throughout the southwestern U.S.

The Netleaf Hackberry prefers areas with limestone soils or along riverbeds. It produces small, round berries that can be eaten by birds and other animals!

12. Desert Willow (chilopsis linearis)

desert willow chilopsis linearis tree
calpoly.edu Desert Willow (chilopsis linearis) tree

The Desert Willow is a small tree with narrow branches and smooth, pale bark. It can grow up to thirty feet tall and has pink flowers during the spring months.

This plant prefers dry riverbeds or washes in central and southern Arizona! You’ll find these trees blooming from May through June.

13. Emory Oak (quercus emoryi)

Emory Oak tree
Homer Edward Price Emory Oak tree

The Emory Oak is a medium-sized tree that can grow up to fifteen feet tall. These trees have smooth bark and broad leaves with lobed edges.

You’ll find these trees throughout central Arizona, as well as northern Mexico!

Related: Oak trees in Arizona

14. Arizona Cypress (cupressus arizonica)

Arizona Cypress
Chris M Morris Arizona Cypress

The Arizona Cypress is a medium-sized tree with rough bark and green, flattened needles. You’ll find these trees in the mountains of central Arizona, as well as northern Mexico!

The cones of this tree are small, dark brown in color, and can be up to two inches long. These trees prefer dry climates with rocky soil.

15. Arizona Walnut (juglans major)

Juglans major
Matt Lavin Juglans major

The Arizona Walnut is a deciduous tree with brown bark and heart-shaped leaves. It prefers sandy, rocky soil in central and southern Arizona!

This tree produces green nuts that are edible by humans and other animals. The wood of this tree can also be used for construction, furniture, and firewood. 

16. Gregg Ash (fraxinus greggii)

The Gregg Ash is a medium-sized tree with smooth bark and dark green leaves. You’ll find these trees in central Arizona!

This tree produces tiny flowers that produce winged seeds. The wood of this tree can also be used for construction, furniture, and firewood.

17. Arizona Pine (pinus arizonica)

PinusArizonica
Wendy Cutler PinusArizonica

This pine tree is a medium-sized evergreen that can reach up to sixty feet tall. The trunk of this plant has dark brown bark with clusters of small, scaly leaves.

You’ll find these trees in central and southern Arizona! They’re common on mountainsides or rocky areas near desert washes.

Related: Pine trees in Arizona

18. Boxelder Maple (acer negundo)

Acer negundo
Wendy Cutler Boxelder tree (acer negundo)

The Boxelder Maple tree is a deciduous tree that can grow up to thirty feet tall. This plant has smooth bark and compound, multi-lobed leaves.

You’ll find this tree blooming during the spring months with clusters of tiny flowers! It prefers moist areas at lower elevations or along rivers and creeks.

19. Arizona Buckeye (astragalus arizonica)

Arizona Buckeye
Mike Liu Arizona Buckeye

The Arizona Buckeye is a deciduous tree that produces yellow flowers during the spring months. This plant has smooth gray bark and compound leaves with 3 leaflets. You’ll find these trees in central and southern Arizona!

The fruit of this plant looks similar to an acorn, but is poisonous if eaten. The wood can also be used for construction, furniture, and firewood.

20. Water Birch (betula occidentalis)

Water birch Betula occidentalis
Dcrsjr Water birch (Betula occidentalis)

The Water Birch is a deciduous tree that can grow up to thirty feet tall. It has dark gray bark with white lines and smooth, long leaves.

You’ll find these trees along rivers or creeks in central Arizona! These plants are able to tolerate standing water if their roots aren’t submerged. They also produce tiny winged seeds.

21. Quaking Aspen (populus tremuloides)

Quaking Aspens
Nicholas A. Tonelli Quaking Aspens

The Quaking Aspen is a deciduous tree that can grow up to eighty feet tall! It has smooth, white bark with green leaves and red tinged stems. You’ll find these trees in mountainous regions throughout central Arizona!

22. Western Redbud (cercis occidentalis)

Western redbud
Noelle Gillies Western redbud

The Western Redbud is a deciduous tree that can grow up to thirty feet tall. It has gray bark with pale green leaves and fuzzy, cream-colored flowers.

You’ll find these trees in central and southern Arizona! They produce winged seeds that are dispersed by the wind. The wood of this plant can also be used for construction, furniture, and firewood.

23. Arizona Sycamore (platanus wrightii)

Arizona Sycamore
Kenneth Bosma Arizona Sycamore

The Arizona Sycamore is a deciduous tree that can grow up to forty feet tall! It has smooth gray bark with dark green leaves. You’ll find these trees throughout central Arizona!

The fruit of this tree is edible by humans and animals! The wood can also be used for construction, furniture, and firewood.

24. Arizona Ash (fraxinus velutina)

Fraxinus velutina
Forest and Kim Starr Fraxinus velutina

The Arizona Ash is a deciduous tree that can grow up to sixty feet tall! The bark of this plant has deep grooves and green leaves. You’ll find these trees along rivers and creeks in central and southern Arizona!

The fruit of this tree produces winged seeds that are dispersed by the wind. It prefers sandy soil and can grow in various environments. The wood of this plant is also used for construction, furniture, and firewood.

25. Alligator Juniper (juniperus deppeana)

Juniperus deppeana alligator juniper
Matt Lavin Juniperus deppeana – alligator juniper

The Alligator Juniper is a coniferous tree that can grow up to twenty feet tall! It has thick, brown bark with scale-like leaves. You’ll find these trees on mountainsides or rocky areas in central and southern Arizona!

The berries of this plant are edible but contain high amounts of saponin which makes them toxic. The wood can also be used for construction, furniture, and firewood.

26. Fremont Cottonwood (populus fremontii)

Fremont Cottonwoods
Homer Edward Price Fremont Cottonwoods

The Fremont Cottonwood is a deciduous tree that can grow up to forty feet tall! It has tan bark, long leaves, and hairy flowers.

You’ll find these trees along rivers or creeks in central and southern Arizona! They are tolerant of flooding due to their deep root system.

27. Chokecherry (prunus virginiana)

Chokecherry Tree prunus virginiana.
Matt Lavin Chokecherry Tree (prunus virginiana.)

The chokecherry is a deciduous tree that can grow up to fifteen feet tall! It has smooth gray bark and long, oval-shaped leaves. You’ll find these trees throughout central and southern Arizona!

This plant has edible fruits that are used by humans and animals alike. The wood of this tree can be used for construction, firewood, and furniture.

28. Black Locust (robinia pseudoacacia)

Robinia pseudoacacia
AnRo0002 Black Locust (Robinia pseudoacacia)

The Black Locust is a deciduous tree that can grow up to sixty feet tall! It has smooth gray bark with green leaves. This tree produces yellow flowers in the spring time! You’ll find these trees in central and southern Arizona.

This plant is able to tolerate drought conditions, poor soil, and high elevations. The wood of this tree can be used for construction, firewood, and furniture.

29. Desert Ironwood (olneya tesota)

The Desert Ironwood is a small evergreen tree that can grow up to twelve feet tall! It has thick bark and long leaves with silvery undersides. You’ll find these trees in central Arizona!

30. White Fir (abies concolor)

Abies concolor White Fir
S. Rae Abies concolor (White Fir)

The White Fir is a coniferous tree that can grow up to fifty feet tall! It has smooth bark with needles and green leaves. You’ll find these trees in mountainous areas throughout Arizona.

This plant prefers sandy soil and moist soil. The wood can also be used for construction, furniture, and firewood.

31. Crabapple Trees (malus) 

crabapple tree
Jim Champion crabapple tree

The Crabapple Tree is deciduous and can grow up to thirty feet tall! It has pink flowers that bloom in the spring followed by small, red apples.

You’ll find these trees throughout Arizona. The fruit of this tree is edible by humans and animals alike. This plant has no known uses regarding construction, furniture, or firewood, but sharp thorns on the leaves and fruit make it a good choice for privacy and security.