Cacti and Other Iconic Desert Plants Threatened by Solar Development

Yucca grows near a solar facility in the Mojave Desert.
Yucca grows near a solar facility in the Mojave Desert.

By Kat Kerlin 

With their tough skins, pointy armor and legendary stamina, cacti are made to defend themselves from whatever nature throws at them. 

But large solar energy facilities are one threat that cacti weren’t built to withstand, according to a study by the University of California, Davis. 

The study, published today in the journal Nature Sustainability, chronicles the impacts of ground-mounted solar energy development in the Mojave Desert on native plants and their cultural significance to indigenous tribes in the region.

“We’re talking about iconic and threatened plants — cacti, especially, and Mojave yucca,” said co-leading author Steve Grodsky, an assistant research ecologist at UC Davis. “These are the plants most people envision when they think about the desert, and they’re also the most negatively affected by solar energy development.”

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