Dasylirion longissimum

Mexican Grass Tree

Consider Mexican Grass Tree a memorable accent due to its color, texture and intricate globe-shaped form. Canopy coverage: 20 square feet.

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Dasylirion wheeleri

Desert Spoon

Desert Spoon is an outstanding accent plant. Leaf stalks are toothed so plant away from traffic areas. Flowers bloom on tall stalks several feet high. Canopy coverage: 20 square feet.

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Drosanthemum floribundum

Rosea Iceplant

Iceplant is a vibrant, colorful succulent that serves a dependable role as a groundcover or bank cover. Flowering is quite dramatic as solid sheets of blooms dominate the landscape in late spring. The flowering season lasts just a few weeks, but plant foliage is attractive on its own. Canopy coverage: 7 square feet, but eventual plant spread is considerable, adding to their coverage.

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Euphorbia antisyphilitica


A small-scale accent that is little bother, with no litter or thorns to contend with. Plant is composed of multiple upright stems that are about 1/4-inch in diameter. Accepts a wide range of sun exposures. Spreads slowly by rhizomes. Excellent choice as a container plant. Its sap can irritate the skin so avoid contact. Canopy coverage: 3 square feet.

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Euphorbia milii

Crown of Thorns

Locate in a sheltered area out of afternoon sun. Leaves are sparse and are borne a ends of branches armed with sharp thorns. Sap is poisonous and can irritate the skin. Canopy coverage: 3 square feet.

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Euphorbia polychroma

Cushion Spurge

Cushion Spurge is so-named due to its rounded, mounding growth that reminds one of a chair cushion. Its eye-catching, sulphur yellow color comes from the bracts, modified leaves, that surround the insignificant greenish flowers. Accepts some shade but better appearance in full sun. Sap may irritate skin. Canopy coverage: 3 square feet.

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Euphorbia resinifera

Moroccan Mound

This succulent has been grown in gardens for decades. The stubby, four-sided stems grow close together to form a solid cover that can spread wide with time. Plant in well draining soil. Best with afternoon shade in hot desert regions. Sap can be poisonous. Canopy coverage: 28 square feet.

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Euphorbia rigida

Gopher Plant

A distinctive plant that you won't soon forget once you see it in the landscape. Brilliant chrome yellow flowers bloom at the tips of 2-foot-long lime green branches. Form and color are dramatic; use as an accent to spice up the scene. Canopy coverage: 13 square feet.

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Euphorbia tirucalli


Plant in a protected location. Grown for its distinctive form and cylindrical, pencil-like branches. ‘Sticks of Fire’ produces new growth that is a bright orange and red rather than green. Like all euphorbias, it produces sap that is poisonous and can irritate the skin. Plant away from traffic areas and handle with care. Canopy coverage: 50 square feet.

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Fouquieria splendens


Ocotillo is an iconic plant of the desert with a distinctive silhouette. A common name, Buggy Whip, helps describe its form. Canopy coverage: 177 square feet.

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Hesperaloe funifera

Giant Hesperaloe

Not a member of Yucca genus, but it is definitely yuccalike in appearance. Notable feature is tall candelabra of bell-shaped flowers that bloom on tall stalks.

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Hesperaloe parviflora

Red Yucca

One of the best accent plants around. Common name is Red Yucca, but it is not a Yucca but a different genus, Hesperaloe. Yellow-flowering forms are available. The selection 'Brakelight' produces more intense red flowers. (See photos.) Canopy coverage: 20 square feet.

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Hesperoyucca whipplei

Our Lord's Candle

Like agaves, it flowers one time and then dies. Flower stalk grows tall—up to 10 feet or more. Generally a few pups (small plants) form around its base to ensure its long-term survival. Accepts some shade. Leaves are armed with sharp points, so avoid planting near walkways. Canopy coverage: 28 square feet.

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Lampranthus filicaulis

Redondo Creeper

Grows just a few inches high, but spreads as a groundcover up to 3 feet wide. Nice, small-scale cover on a gradual slope. Best in well draining soil. Accepts summer-dry conditions. Canopy coverage: 7 square feet.

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Lampranthus spectabilis

Trailing Ice Plant

From a practical viewpoint, this is a rapidly spreading plant that works well as a groundcover. But it's the brilliant flowers that catch the eye, blooming for a long period late winter into spring. Plants may be short-lived so be prepared to replant after three or four years. Accepts seaside conditions. Canopy coverage: 3 sqaure feet. Photos courtesy of Pam Pavela.

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Nolina bigelovii

Bigelow's Nolina, Beargrass

This yuccalike accent plant is a member of the lily family. It grows in a large rosette form with a trunk to 3 feet high. This is topped with 3- to 4-foot-long narrow leaves. Accepts most soils as long as it is well draining. Canopy coverage: 28 square feet.

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Nolina matapensis

Tree Bear Grass

After many years Tree Bear Grass can take on a form reminiscent of the iconic Joshua Tree. Canopy coverage: 28 square feet.

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Nolina microcarpa

Bear Grass

The form of Beargrass is a wide-spreading, grasslike clump. Not a plant for close-up viewing, but valued for its ability to thrive in less-than-ideal conditions. Canopy coverage: 50 square feet.

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Nolina texana

Texas Bear Grass

The thin leaves of Texas Bear Grass are long, up to 4 feet, and leathery in texture. Showy when allowed to drape and trail over an edge or bank. Canopy coverage: 7 square feet.

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Pachypodium lamerei

Madagascar Palm

The crown of large leaves on top and paired spines along the stems give Madagascar Palm its unique appearance. Prime candidate for container culture. Protect from cold when temperatures drop anywhere near freezing. Canopy coverage: 13 square feet.

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Pedilanthus macrocarpus

Slipper Flower

Lady's Slipper is a candidate for protected locations in cold winter areas, or in containers. Unique vertical form provides close-up interest. Slipper-shaped flowers at the tips of stalks bloom late spring into summer. Canopy coverage: 3 square feet.

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