Plants and Animals of Southern Utah

Something that I’ve always been fascinated with is the nature that I am surrounded with. Plants and animals share a beautiful relationship in nature, and I’m here today to talk to you about that amazing partnership.

The amazing thing about many of the plants in Utah is that there are so many of them that are actually safe to eat! So, if you’re looking to work on your green thumb, I suggest you read on to find out if any of those weeds growing around your house are worth snacking on. Here are a couple of my favorites:

Blue Mustard 

Typically found during rainy seasons for a brief period of time, these plants are a rare but delicious find if you like to have a zesty flavor in your salads. If you plan on growing these, be sure to keep them well-watered. Because they have that strong mustard smell and taste, I recommend using them sparingly as a delicious garnish.


Goosefoot is also known as Lamb’s Quarters or, quite simply, wild spinach. When I make the double take, I can totally see the resemblance to store-bought spinach, but these leaves are actually far more nutritious than the spinach you would by at the supermarket. So if you ever see any of these little guys sprouting in your yard, you might want to think twice before you mistake them for weeds!

If you pair the two plants together, you can have yourself a pretty fantastic salad with a nice kick to it. Mike Wood, creator of the Wild Utah Edibles blog, gives us a nice walk through of his garden where he talks about both the blue mustard plant and the goosefoot. Take a look at his video, and be sure to check out his blog!

Dune Evening Primrose

As beautiful as this plant may be, it is probably one of the most valuable plants you could find in the desert. First of all, these beauties are very easy to find, because they thrive in sunlight, so you’ll be able to find them out in the open. Many people associate primrose with medicinal purposes, but this entire plan is a salad in itself from the roots, to the leaves, to the flowers. Even the seeds, if you’re lucky enough to find a plant that still have seed pods, can be roasted and added to your dish. This plant is as delicious as it is beautiful.

If you’re ever stuck in the desert and you don’t know where to look to find the edible plants that I  just mentioned, my advice is to follow the animals. Here are some critters who like to eat the plants that I just mentioned, and together, you can all coexist happily if you choose to.

If you grow primrose in your garden and have been wondering who has been munching on your plants, it’s most likely the rabbits. In Utah, the two most common types of rabbits are the Jack Rabbit, and the Cottontail Rabbits.

To help you better identify, here is a Jack Rabbit:

The Jack Rabbit is commonly identified by its long ears and limbs, and are usually found in desert climates.

And here is a Cottontail Rabbit:

These little guys are what we would see more often, and they are a little stubbier and fluffier with a tail like…well, like cotton.

Both of these little guys can be found munching on your primrose and any of the plants I mentioned really, but don’t worry — there are plenty of plants to go around.

This next animal happens to be my favorite desert animal. Utah’s desert tortoise is fascinating, because unlike many other animals, their body shape has not changed over the centuries, which goes to show how highly evolved they were to begin with in order to withstand the desert.

Unfortunately, NBC News has reported that the population for these guys has been rapidly declining, so if you happen to cross paths with one of them, please do them and their future spawn the courtesy of simply leaving them alone. No selfies please!

For more on the critters of Utah, check out this video:

What are your favorite plants and animals of Southern Utah? Have you encountered any amazing animals lately?

Do you have any recipes from any edible plants in your garden?

Comment below with your famous edible plant recipes, we would love to try them!

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