purple phaceilia, pink bloomed beavertail cactus, Great Basin bristlecone pine cone, white flower in sand, red desert paintbrush
Death Valley has more than 1,000 described plant species ranging from ancient bristlecone pines to ephemeral spring wildflowers.

Despite its reputation as a lifeless wasteland, Death Valley National Park contains a great diversity of plants. The park covers over 3 million acres of Mojave and Great Basin desert terrain, with elevations ranging from 282 feet below sea level at Badwater Basin to 11,049 feet on the summit of Telescope Peak. Annual precipitation varies from 1.9 inches on the valley floor to over 15 inches in the higher mountains.

Vegetation zones include creosote bush, desert holly, and mesquite at the lower elevations up through shadscale, blackbrush, Joshua tree, pinyon-juniper, to sub-alpine limber pine and bristlecone pine woodlands. The saltpan is devoid of vegetation, and the rest of the valley floor and lower slopes have sparse cover, yet where water is available, an abundance of vegetation is usually present.

Different vegetation zones will bloom at different times of the year, with a wildflower season that can last from February at low elevations to June in the highest mountains. For more information on blooms and insight into the current year's bloom predictions, visit our Wildflower Seasons page.

A singular yellow sunflower-type flower


Learn more about wildflowers and get an update on current blooming in the park.

A spiny cactus with three, bright pink flowers.

Cacti and Desert Succulents

Death Valley is home to many different types of cacti and other desert succulents- learn more about them!


Surviving a Harsh Environment

How have plants adapted to survive the extremes of Death Valley? Here are a few broad strategies:

Escaper plants- (ex: wildflowers) wait for favorable growing conditions such as rain and cool temperatures and avoid growing during the extreme heat and dry periods.

Resister plants- are able to resist the extreme temperatures and dryness of Death Valley and live year-round. An example of this are mesquite trees, which have roots up to 80 feet long that allow them to reach water deep underground.

Evader plants- (ex: pickleweed) evade the extreme conditions by living near water sources like springs and streams.

Last updated: January 9, 2023

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P.O. Box 579
Death Valley , CA 92328


760 786-3200

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