Ethel M® Chocolates' breathtaking Botanical Cactus Garden is Nevada's largest and one of the world's largest collections of its kind. Based on the English landscape model of naturalistic design, the Ethel M® Botanical Cactus Garden features four acres of drought-tolerant ornamentals, cacti, and other succulents.
With a landscape base of 15,000 cubic yards of sandy fill and a special planting soil, the beds were raised and rookeries constructed using 400 tons of rock, thereby providing the best possible viewing experience for visitors.
Over 300 species of plants can be found on the grounds. Half are cacti and succulents largely native to the American Southwest, and the rest are desert trees and shrubs from the Southwestern United States, Australia, and South America. All of these plants were chosen both for the beauty of their floral displays and their ability to adapt to the climate of Southern Nevada. The types of rock used are Utah Bali Hai chocolate and Arizona moss rock (from the Grand Canyon region). Here is sampling of the types of plants that you will see visiting our Cactus Garden
This cactus grows 6 to 12 inches high, has short bristles, and is up to 6 feet wide. The green/gray, jointed stems are wide and flat, resembling the tail of a beaver. The Beaver Tail's flowers are followed by a oval fruit with many seeds.
Variegated Century Plant
The Variegata is an excellent accent or container plant for the Cactus Garden. It has a rigid form and reaches 3-4 feet tall. This cactus plant has variegated gray-blue leaves with yellow stripes which taper to a poisonous sharp spine. Varieties have yellow or white striped leaves with serrated edges, and a rough texture. Eventually arms bearing greenish yellow blooms appear from the flowery part of the plant. The roots of this plant are used to make tequila, and the fibrous leaf has been used for weaving baskets.
This small to medium sized tree has a spiny trunk and disperses tasty seeds to the many birds around it.
The Ocotillo can be relied on to bloom annually, even without leafing in particularly dry springs. It is an inverted funnel-shaped desert plant with several spiny strait branches angling outward, and growing as high as twenty feet into the air. The Red flowers of the Ocotillo grow up to an inch in length, and have five short lobes curled back into 10-inch clusters. They appear at the ends of branches from March through June, and sometimes later depending on the rainfall.
Because the north side is somewhat protected by the sun, it grows faster than the south side of the plant, and as a result, The Compass Barrel Cactus grows slanted in the direction of the south. The Compass Barrel flowers from May to August. Bees are attracted to the plants flowers, and its fruits are eaten by deer and rodents.
Maguey Century Plant
The Maguey Century Plant is limited to use by its size and blooming habits. The Maguey only blooms once it is at least fifteen years old. The Maguey Century Plant is used in many herbal remedies, and accelerates the healing of wounds.
One of the most unique looking cacti in our garden, the Spotted Aloe amazes visitors with its unique shape and colors. Originating in South Africa, along with many other Spotted Aloe species, the Aloe 'picta' adds a great look and feel to this area of the Cactus Garden.
Twisted Acacia and Bird
This tree like shrub spreads thorny branches low to the ground. It grows four to twelve feet off the ground and is native to the Edwards Plateau and the South Texas Plains. The Twisted Acacia is food to deer, small mammals and game birds. The seeds of the Twisted Acacia are food to Wild and feral hogs. Sheep and goats eat some parts as well. Birds and small mammals use Twisted acacia as a canopy for nesting, roosting, and protection.
A beautiful spineless cactus that blends well with succulents and rock gardens. The green body is accented by white flakes on the outside of the ribs and produces beautiful yellow flowers.
This cactus is one of the most characteristic plants of the Desert. It is an abundant evergreen, palm-like shrub and grows 10 to 18 feet into the air. The gray trunk is slightly furrowed, covered with dead leaves at the top, and usually is unbranched with very long, narrow leaves. The grasslike leaves are flat and grow 1 to 3 inches long and about 1/2 inch wide. The Soaptree Yucca gets its name from the soapy material it contains in its roots and trunks.
This cactus' name comes from it's shape, which looks like the large pipes on an old fashioned organ. It can be found all over at the Phoenix Botanical Gardens. They are native to the Sonoran desert in Arizona and Mexico. The Organ Pipe cactus has pale pink flowers that bloom and they produce a fruit that can be eaten. The Organ Cactus can grow up to 25 feet tall.
Teddy Bear Cholla
The Teddy Bear Cholla is a member of the Opuntia genus, a group which includes other spiny cacti like prickly pear. The Teddy Bear Cholla can be distinguished from other spiny cacti by three main characteristics. First, they have jointed segments. Secondly, rudimentary leaves are present on new joints, and lastly, their seeds have a pale covering called an aril. The Teddy Bear Cholla's seeds are almost never viable. This plant reproduces almost entirely by dropping segments, which then take root. Often, pack rats will pile the joins of this Cholla around the entrance to burrows, to scare away predators. The Teddy Bear Cholla grows in very low elevation desert areas around 3000 feet and lower. It blooms in the spring and produces green or yellow flowers, followed by egg-shaped fruit.
Wooly Butterfly Bush
This bush is named after the Butterflies it attracts with it's sweet smelling flowers. The Wooly butterfly bush is considered quite drought tolerant and requires little water once established. It makes for a great addition to our garden, and a great home to many butterflies.
For most of its life, the Desert Milkweed looks like a plain old everyday regular weed, with clusters of grayish-green stems being it's only characteristic. For part of its life (in the spring), however, the Desert Milkweed grows clusters of yellowish flowers. The desert milkweed is an important food source for the monarch butterflies, and can be used to attract them to the garden.
Texas Prickly Pear
The Prickly Pear cactus is characterized by its flat oval pads. The Texas Prickly Pear averages at six feet in height. It can be found throughout the American Southwest, arid regions of Mexico, the Great Plains, and southern Canada. The Texas Prickly Pear is known as the Texas Cactus, and has its origins there. It produces yellow, red, and purple blooms depending on the species, and sometimes different colors can even appear within the same species. Sometimes the Texas Prickly Pear is used as hedging because of its size and shape. Its fruit is also used as food to animals, and humans too. During droughts, the plant is sometimes fed to livestock because of its moist pads. People have used the cactus for making jams, candies, and many other foods as well.
The Creosote bush is one of the most easily recognizable desert shrubs. It grows in a huge range of area from Southwestern US all the way into parts of South America. The most amazing thing about this plant is the duration at which it can live. The original plant itself can live to be over a hundred years old. However, during its life it can produce clones of itself inside the plant where the inner stems die, and new stems appear. These stems plant themselves and take root, forming a new clone plant. Just outside of Victorville, CA, there is a Creosote Bush named "King Clone", which is estimated to be 11,700 years old. If you consider the clones to be part of the original plant, then this is the oldest living thing on the planet.