Ethel M Botanical Cactus Garden – Henderson, Nevada - Atlas Obscura

Ethel M Botanical Cactus Garden

Nevada's largest cactus collection stands outside a candy mogul's small factory. 


Ethel M is Ethel Mars, the matriarch of the family famous for Mars chocolates, including M&Ms. Forrest Edward Mars Sr., while bored after retiring from running Mars, Inc., created a new chocolate company in his mother’s honor. Ethel M Chocolates was founded in this Las Vegas suburb in 1981, in part due to Nevada laws allowing the production and sale liqueur-filled chocolates, for which the Ethel M brand has become well known.

While tours of the small confection factory are popular, it also boasts an outdoor feature that’s definitely worth exploring: the four-acre Ethel M Botanical Cactus Garden. Over 300 species of cacti and succulents make this Nevada’s largest collection of its kind, and one of the biggest in the world.

Roughly half of the desert plants are native to the American Southwest, with another half from Australia, South America, and other parts of the United States. The plants, which are drought-resistant, were all chosen for their for their striking flowers and because they’re capable of adapting to the climate.

The garden is also sustainable. The candy factory recycles 100 percent of its wastewater without using any chemicals, thanks to the help of bacteria, algae, snails, and fish. The water is then used to hydrate the plants, and also attracts a variety of local birds.

Know Before You Go

There is no charge to visit the cactus garden on a self-guided stroll. Guided tours of the garden and chocolate factory cost an entry fee.

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