Cacti / Desert Succulents

Cactus with pink, orange, yellow, and green blooms

The Mojave Desert is rich with cacti and succulent species, yet in Death Valley National Park they are scarce due to the extremes of heat, dryness, and soil salinity. Even so, cactus grow from an elevation of 400 feet above sea level to the summits of the surrounding mountains.

Cacti most commonly seen are cottontop barrel, silver cholla, and beavertail cactus. Engelmann hedgehog cactus are locally abundant above 3000 feet elevation. Grizzly bear pricklypear is the most common species in the pinyon-juniper woodlands.

Joshua trees (the indicator species of the Mojave Desert) are found in only a few locations here. The Lee Flat area contains the finest stand in the park.

In contrast to other succulent species, pickleweed is very salt-tolerant and can be found in marshy areas below sea level.

barrel cactus with yellow spines and pink flowers
Mojave pineapple cactus

Barrel Cactus

  • California Barrel Cactus
    Ferocactus cylindraceus var. lecontei
  • Cottontop Barrel Cactus
    Echinocactus polycephalus
  • Mojave Pineapple Cactus
    Sclerocactus johnsonii
  • Mojave Fishhook Cactus
    Sclerocactus polyancistrus

Hedgehog Cactus

  • Engelmann Hedgehog Cactus
    Echinocereus engelmannii
  • Mojave Mound Cactus
    Echinocereus triglochidiatus var. mojavensis

Pincushion Cactus

  • Desert Spinystar
    Escobaria vivipara var. deserti
  • Corkseed Fishhook Cactus
    Mammillaria tetrancistra
Orange bloom of a cactus
Grizzly bear cactus bloom

Pricklypear Cactus

  • Beavertail Cactus
    Opuntia basilaris
  • Old Man Pricklypear
    Opuntia erinacea var. erinacea
  • Grizzly Bear Pricklypear
    Opuntia erinacea var. ursina
  • Mojave Pricklypear
    Opuntia mojavensis
  • Brown-spined Pricklypear
    Opuntia phaeacantha var. major
  • Plains Pricklypear
    Opuntia polycantha var. rufispina
Spiny, long, multi-branched cactus
Silver cholla

Cholla Cactus

  • Silver Cholla
    Cylindropuntia echinocarpa
  • Pencil Cholla
    Cylindropuntia ramosissima
  • Teddybear Cholla
    Cylindropuntia bigelovii


  • Joshua Tree
    Yucca brevifolia
  • Mojave Yucca
    Yucca schidigera

Other Succulents

  • Pickleweed
    Allenrolfea occidentalis
  • Dead Man’s Fingers (annual)
    Calandrinia ambigua
  • Western Spring Beauty
    Claytonia lanceolata
  • Panamint Live-forever
    Dudleya saxosa ssp. saxosa
  • Bitterroot
    Lewisia rediviva
  • Inkweed
    Suaeda moquinii

Last updated: September 28, 2021

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Death Valley, CA 92328


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