Desert Garden

Deserts are found throughout the world and are characterized by low precipitation, sparse vegetation and drastic swings in temperature between night and day. Various definitions exist for desert, but often include limits of precipitation, or a negative evapotranspiration, meaning that more water evaporates from the area than is added from precipitation. The plants of deserts have evolved numerous strategies to deal with the harsh climate. Examples of these strategies include succulent water-holding leaves and stems, small or absent leaves, and short annual lifecycles. In many cases, similar strategies for coping with the desert climate have evolved independently in unrelated groups of plants in different parts of the world.

Our Desert Garden includes plants from true deserts, semi-deserts, desert/Mediterranean transition zones and other arid climate regions. This Garden is organized into several subsections which include South African succulents, Canary Island natives, New World deserts, and Madagascar spiny forests. A diverse variety of aloes, cacti, agaves and bromeliads (Dyckia and Puya) are found here. Highlight specimens include a large Dragon tree (Dracaena draco) from the Canary Islands, and a stand of Madagascar ocotillos (Alluaudia procera).


The UCLA Mildred E. Mathias Botanical Garden acknowledges the Gabrielino/Tongva peoples as the traditional land caretakers of Tovaangar (the Los Angeles basin and So. Channel Islands). As a promoter of nature at a California land grant institution, we pay our respects to the Honuukvetam (Ancestors), ‘Ahiihirom (Elders) and ‘Eyoohiinkem (our relatives/relations) past, present and emerging.

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