27 Trees For The Hot and Dry Arizona Climate

Looking for trees to plant in your Arizona yard or garden space? Arizona is HOT! So it takes a special type of tree to be able to hold up to some of the hottest temperatures in the entire United States. In this guide, we take a look at some of the best trees to plant in around your home or in your garden, that can withstand some of the hottest climates.

Arizona Blue Palo Verde Tree in The Desert

If you want to plant a tree on your Arizona property, there are a few key thoughts to consider. Climate zones in Arizona vary depending on elevation, aridity, and temperature. It is best to plant a tree well-suited for your geography and topography.

The Arizona Department of Forestry and Fire Management suggests you plant a native tree versus a non-native tree in Arizona. Native trees cope with the environment better, thus extending their lifespan.

You can plant non-native trees in Arizona, but be sure to be well-educated on the specifics of the species you decide to plant. These specifics include growth patterns, signs that the tree is healthy, like typical bark color, and typical tree flowering and fruit production tendencies. Check out our list below of 27 trees that thrive in the Arizona climate.

Alligator Juniper

tree with small green pine needles and white round shaped flowers on it
This tree will grow to be around 20-55 feet tall and about 20-50 feet wide.
Scientific Name: Juniperus deppeana

Elevation: 4,500-6,000 feet

Alligator juniper trees are 20-55 feet high and 20-50 feet wide. They have an alligator-like blocking pattern on the tree trunk and are a dark grey, nearly black color.

Male trees produce small yellow flowers in clusters at the ends of twigs. Female trees produce small, round, pale green flowers. The fruit produced by alligator junipers is round, berry-like cones with a reddish-brown waxy coating.

Common insects or disease: aphids, spider mites, rust, and beetle borers

Arizona Ash

Arizona Ash Tree
The Arizona Ash is native to the state.
Scientific Name: Fraxinus velutina

Elevation: 4,500-6,000 feet

Arizona Ash trees grow up to 50 feet tall and 20-50 feet wide. They are a single stem tree that migrates out into many large branches.

Its bark is a light grey colored with fissures. Arizona ash trees produce flowers that grow in clusters in late spring. Its fruit is a yellow or mostly green-winged seed.

Common insects or disease: webworms

Arizona Cypress

tree branch with tiny yellow buds on the tips of pine needles
The tiny flowers on this tree give it an overall yellow hue to it.
Scientific Name: Cupressus arizonica

Elevation: 4,500-6,000 feet

These trees grow up to 75 feet and have a width of up to 45 feet. The bark of an Arizona Cypress is smooth when the tree is young but becomes rougher with age. It produces yellow flowers, but they are small and insignificant to the tree’s overall look.

The leaves are tight and needle-like with a gray-green to silver-blue color. They are often waxy and do not produce a pleasant smell!

Common insects or disease: leaf blight

Black Locust

tree with dark bark and small white flower clusters hanging from branches
This desert tree will bloom these fragrant white flowers on it in the spring.
Scientific Name: Robinia pseudoacacia

Elevation: Above 6,000 feet

The black locust tree grows to be about 65 feet in height, with a width equal to its height. Its bark is gray or light brown, and it resembles a woven rope. It is thick, fibrous, and heavily ridged.

It has showy flowers that are about one inch in diameter. These flowers are white and fragrant. They hang in large clusters that are about 5 inches long! You can expect to see the flowers in mid to late spring.

Common insects or disease: aphids, beetle borers, fusarium, phytophthora, and verticillium

Blue Palo Verde

tree with tons of tiny yellow flowers all over it
These trees will only grow to be around 40 feet tall and will provide a good amount of shade.
Scientific Name: Parkinsonia florida

Elevation: Below 4,500 feet

The blue palo verde is a tree with a width equal to or greater than its height. Though it reaches wide, it does not grow very tall. It can grow up to 40 feet tall. The blue palo verde produces flowers that are bright yellow with five lobes. These flowers grow in loose clusters. You can tell it apart from other trees by its green bark.

Common insects or disease: no significant issues

Cat Claw Acacia

tree in desert with yellow puffy flowers on it
These trees are on the smaller side and will grow these beautiful, unique flowers on it.
Scientific Name: Acacia greggi

Elevation: Below 4,500 feet

This tree is relatively small compared to others on this list. It grows to be between 20-40 feet tall with a width of 12-20 feet. Sometimes, it can grow into a weeping shape. The bark on this tree varies. It can be smooth, furrowed, or scaly. The color varies from light green to dark gray.

The flowers it produces vary in color as well. The tree’s flowers can be white, yellow, cream-colored, and in some instances purple or red. The flower is a very small five-petaled flower that grows in dense clusters.

Common insects or disease: caterpillar

Chokecherry

tree with tiny red berries hanging from branches
These trees will only reach a height of 25 feet or so.
Scientific Name: Prunus virginiana

Elevation: Below 6,000 feet

The chokecherry tree is another smaller tree as it grows to be up to 25 feet high and has a width equal to its height. Generally, it grows in a shrub-like formation.

The hallmark of this tree is that it produces dark red or purple fruit. The flowers produced by the chokecherry are often white to pink. They can also be red. The flowers have five petals and five sepals.

Common insects or disease: aphids, beetle borers, spider mites, rust, sooty mold, and verticillium

Desert Ironwood

tree with tiny purple and white flower buds all over branches
In the spring these trees bloom these small lavender flowers all over them.
Scientific Name: Olneya tesota

Elevation: Below 4,500 feet

This desert climate tree grows to be 15-30 feet high and 15-30 feet wide. Their trunks are strong and erect, with a low spreading canopy. The bark is light gray and scaly with striations. In its youth, this tree has thorny branches.

The floral arrangements of this tree appear in springtime. They are lavender-pink pea-shaped flowers that form in clusters.

Common insects or disease: no significant diseases or issues

Desert Willow

tree with long pointy leaves and purple flowers
These trees are a common staples in most Arizona landscaping and will grow to be about 10-30 feet tall.
Scientific Name: Chilopsis linearis

Elevation: Below 4,500 feet

This tree has sparse branches and is not a densely formed tree. It is generally taller than it is wide, with a width of about 10 feet and a height of up to 30 feet. The bark is gray-brown with lighter-colored splits in it.

The flowers are the hallmark visual of this tree. They are attractive and bell-shaped. Its white to lavender color scheme makes for a pleasant sight out in the desert.

Common insects or disease: fall webworm and Western tent caterpillar

Emory Oak

Quercus emoryi
This tree can grow up to 60 feet tall.
Scientific Name: Quercus emoryi

Elevation: 4,500-6,000 feet

This oak tree variation is quite large compared to other trees on our list. It grows to be up to 60 feet high and has a width equal to its height. It typically has a short trunk with a shrub-like crown formation.

It produces acorns, and its bark is dark gray. The bark becomes quite thick with age and begins to split into irregular furrows and scaly ridges.

Common insects or disease: root rot

Image Credit: Deiv mm via creative commons (Usage Permitted With Attribution)

Flowering Crabapple

tree with bright pink flowers growing on it
This tree will produce beautiful white, pink or red blooms all over it in the spring.
Scientific Name: Malus sp.

Elevation: Above 6,000 feet

This tree is true to its name! You can expect to see gorgeous flowers in the spring from the flowering crabapple. The flower is a flat-topped cluster with five petals. The tree’s flower coloring can be pink, white, or red. The fruit produced by this tree can be red or yellow but are mostly green.

Its bark is gray, brown, or reddish-brown. The texture begins smoothly in its youth but transitions into having a more knotty bark as it ages.

Common insects or disease: aphids, beetle borers, coddling moths, psyllid, brown rot, canker, crown rot, powdery mildew, scab, and sooty mold

Foothills Palo Verde

tree with green trunk and tiny yellow leaves all over it
These trees are very common in Arizona and provide ample shade for yards and gardens.
Scientific Name: Parkinsonia microphylla

Elevation: Below 4,500 feet

This tree is usually small and relatively shrub-like. It grows up to 16-25 feet high and 12-18 feet wide. The foothills palo verde tree has bright yellow flowers with five lobes, and they grow in clusters. An interesting point about this tree is that its bark is thin, green, and photosynthetic!

Common insects or disease: no significant insects or diseases

Fremont Cottonwood

giant trees in desert with leaves turning yellow and orange
These trees can grow very large, reaching a height of 90 feet tall.
Scientific Name: Populus fremontii

Elevation: 4,500-6,000 feet

The Fremont cottonwood tree grows to be 20-90 feet high and 30-50 feet wide. These trees can become massive! It produces long, drooping, catkin blooms from March to April. The bark on these trees is smooth when they’re young but becomes deeply fissured with white-colored crack as it gets older.

Common insects or disease: aphids, beetle borers, anthracnose, fall webworm, western tent caterpillar, mistletoe

Gambel Oak

oak leaves on tree branches close up
These trees grow in more of a shrub like shape but can still grow to be fairly tall.
Scientific Name: Quercus gambelii

Elevation: Above 4,500 feet

The Gambel oak tree is a small-to-medium-sized tree that forms in a shrub-like manner. Though, unlike a traditional shrub, it can grow up to 60 feet tall and up to 20 feet wide. Young Gambel oak trees have bark that is thin and light-colored. As they age, the bark becomes darker and rougher.

Male trees produce catkins about one inch in length. Female trees that produce catkins are very small and form clusters. This tree also produces acorns that are about one inch long and can grow in singles or pairs.

Common insects or diseases: beetle borers, caterpillars, insect galls, leaf miner, scales, and oak wit.

Goodding’s Willow

tree with long green pointy leaves all over it
These trees are fast growing and will grow to be around 20-60 feet tall.
Scientific Name: Salix gooddingii

Elevation: 4,500-6,000 feet

Godding’s Willow is a tree that is best suited for the northern region of Arizona. They grow to be between 20 and 60 feet high. These trees grow very quickly. Female catkins are about 1-3 inches long. The bark is rough, deeply furrowed, and thick. 

Common insects or disease: no common insects or diseases 

Narrowleaf Cottonwood

tall tree with yellow leaves in a field
These trees grow in high elevations and can reach a height of 60 feet tall.
Scientific Name: Populus angustifolia

Elevation: Above 6,000 feet

The narrowleaf cottonwood is aptly named due to its leaf structure being willow-like and 2-5 inches long. They are simple leaves that are quite narrow. The bark on this tree is smooth and light gray colored when young but transforms into dark bark that has furrows and ridges. They can be up to 60 feet tall and 20-30 feet wide.

Common insects or disease: aphids

Netleaf Hackberry

Netleaf  Hackberry Tree
The flowers on the netleaf hackberry appear in early spring.
Scientific Name: Celtis laevigata var. reticulate

Elevation: Below 6,000 feet

Netleaf Hackberries are short trees with interesting bark. They grow to be 40 feet tall and 30 feet wide. The bark is gray and smooth but turns corklike with age. They can also have ring-shaped bumps. The flowers produced by this tree are very small. They appear in early spring at the base of young leaves.

Common insects or disease: no significant diseases

One-Seed Juniper

shrub like trees growing in the desert
These trees look similar to a shrub, but can still reach a height of 25-35 feet.
Scientific Name: Juniperus monosperma

Elevation: 4,500-6,000 feet

This tree gets its name from the fruit it produces. One-seed juniper trees produce round berry-like cones that are a bluish-brown color. They have a waxy texture as well. Each fruit contains one seed per fruit.

Other hallmarks of this tree include brown to gray bark with irregular furrows. It is often scaly with exfoliating ridges. This tree is short and resembles shrubs. It can get up to 25-35 feet in height and has a width that is equal to or less than its height.

Common insects or disease: aphids, spider mites, beetle borers

Pinyon Pine

short tree growing in middle of desert
These trees can be very close to height and width, giving them a round bush like shape.
Scientific Name: Pinus edulis

Elevation: Above 4,500 feet

This pine tree looks more like a bush with its short and wide dimensions. Pinyon pine trees grow up to 45 feet tall and 20-30 feet wide. They have evergreen needles typical of pine trees and are usually 1-3 inches long.

Male and female trees produce differing flower colors and sizes. Males produce red and cylindrical clusters near the end of branches. Females produce purplish flowers at the branch tips.

Common insects or disease: aphids and scales

Ponderosa Pine

tall pine trees growing in high desert
These trees grow well in the high desert and can reach a height of 100 feet.
Scientific Name: Pinus ponderosa

Elevation: Above 6,000 feet

Ponderosa pine trees are much taller and thinner pine trees when compared to other varieties like the pinyon pine. They grow up to 50-100 feet tall and are 25-30 feet wide. They also have evergreen needles, but these needles are 5-10 inches long. When the needles are crushed, they yield a strong turpentine odor that can sometimes be citrus-like.

The bark is dark, nearly black on younger trees, and develops into cinnamon-colored plates as it ages. This is another monoecious tree. The males produce flowers that are yellow-red and form in cylindrical clusters near the branches. Females produce reddish flowers at branch tips.

Common insects or disease: aphids, beetle borers, ips, pitch canker, red ring rot, mistletoe, western gall rust

Quaking Aspen

tall trees with white bark and bright yellow leaves
You can find these trees in the high desert mixed in with ponderosa pines throughout the forest.
Scientific Name: Populus tremuloides

Elevation: Above 6,000 feet

These trees are small and stand very tall. They grow to be 30-70 feet in height and 20-40 feet wide. They often grow in a thicket in the wild. The bark is smooth and can be a creamy yellowish-white to very light green color when they’re young. As they age, the bark turns darker and develops furrows. The fruit of the quaking aspen is 2-4 inch catkins.

Common insects or disease: beetle borers, caterpillars, anthracnose, and mistletoe

Rocky Mountain Juniper

close up of pine tree branch with blue berry like cones
These trees produce these round berry like cones and grow well in the high desert.
Scientific Name: Juniperus scopulorum

Elevation: Above 6,000 feet

The rocky mountain juniper is a beautiful tree that resembles a willow in its shape. The fruit is round, bluish, berry-like cones.

Rocky mountain juniper leaves are small and light with a light-green color. These qualities make for the willow-like structure.

The bark is thin and scaly with long narrow ridges. It begins in a reddish-brown hue but turns dark and gray with age.

Common insects or disease: aphids, beetle borers, and spider mites

Screwbean Mesquite

medium size tree with green leaves in the middle of a desert
These trees have unique coil shaped seed pods and produce colorful flowers in the spring.
Scientific Name: Prosopis pubescens

Elevation: Below 4,500 feet

The screwbean mesquite is a shrub-like desert-dwelling tree. It grows to be 10-30 feet tall and 10-30 feet wide. It has an open and spread-out canopy. The leaves are hairy with as many as 18 leaflets.

The bark is gray and rough with deep fissures. Its fruit is spirally coiled seed pods. They do produce colorful flowers that are small and radial with a greenish-white color.

Common insects or disease: No significant insects or disease

Shrub Live Oak

Quercus turbinella
This small oak shrub is native to Arizona.
Scientific Name: Quercus turbinella

Elevation: 4,500-6,000 feet

Oak trees are known for being sturdy and strong. The shrub live oak is no exception. These trees can grow up to 20-100 feet tall and have a width equal to their height. This tree is shrub-like in its canopy as it spreads wide.

The bark is gray to brown and can be fissured or scaly. These trees produce acorns. Their flowers are often inconspicuous.

Common insects or disease: beetle borers, caterpillars, insect galls, leaf miner, scales, and oak wit

Image Credit: Boboaktree via Creative Commons (Use Permitted With Attribution)

Velvet Mesquite

tree branch with long flower pods and stems of small leaves
These trees can grow up to 30-5- feet tall and is typically wider than it is tall.
Scientific Name: Prosopis velutina

Elevation: Below 4,500 feet

This mesquite tree is different from the other mesquite tree on our list because this one grows taller and has longer leaves. It can grow up to 30-50 feet tall and generally has a width greater than its height.

The flower is a brilliant yellow in dense cylindrical clusters. Young bark is often reddish-brown and smooth, while older bark is dark, dusty gray-colored, and has a more shredded texture.

Common insects or disease: No significant insects or disease

White Fir

greenish white pine needles on branch of tree
These cone shaped trees can reach a height of 80-130 feet tall.
Scientific Name: Abies concolor

Elevation: Above 6,000 feet

The white fir tree can grow up to 80-130 feet tall. However, it can get only about 15-20 feet wide. These trees have a thick bark with resin pockets. Older trees develop deep, irregular furrows.

These trees produce oblong cones that stand upright. They are 3-5 inches long and can be yellow-green to purple. The flowers produced are yellow to red-toned and catkin-like.

Common insects or disease: aphids, bagworm, beetle borers, and mistletoe

White Thorn Acacia

tree with thorns on branches
These trees have these unique long spikes that grow from its bark.
Scientific Name: Acacia constricta

Elevation: Below 4,500 feet

Acacia trees are thin and can grow 20-40 feet tall and 12-20 feet wide. One unique feature of these trees is that their bark has thorns. They produce fruit in legume-like seed pods and flowers that are small and arranged in dense clusters. The coloring of these flowers varies.

Common insects or disease: caterpillars

Final Thoughts

Planting a tree on your property requires a lot of research. Be sure you do so before planting. It is key that you know the climate of your area before planting. Use tree planting guides for tips on how to plant different types of trees. Be sure to pick a tree that is best suited for that area before planting it to ensure success.

Tree planting guides provided by the government of Arizona or other high-quality sources are the best guides. These how-tos are usually based on extensive research in the field conducted by experts. It is one of the best ways to become more educated on trees and how to keep them alive.

Here are a few things to keep in mind before planting a tree:

  • Pick the right tree for your elevation and climate
  • Decide if you are okay with the amount of maintenance needed for the species
  • Determine if you have enough space for the tree to effectively take root.
  • Research the typical insects or disease that infests the species you’d like to plant.

These are just 27 trees native to Arizona that we have listed here. Other trees are native to the area should you want to pick something not included here. You can consult your local environmental agency for more information on gardening tips and tricks to follow so your tree lives a long life.

No matter what you are planting, proper preparation is the key to success. Happy planting!

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