Three Rarities

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Extremely Xeric Conditions

I don’t consciously pursue rare or endangered plants, but I live in an area where many of them reside, and are not only rare, but endemic. Here are three I’ve found simply because I like to hike out here.

Cryptantha crassipes

Yesterday I found the rare Cryptantha crassipes (Terlingua creek cat’s-eye) in bloom in an area near where the photo above was taken. I’ve been here many times, but I could never identify the plant. Here is a how Cryptantha crassipes usually looks.

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The Plant as Seen Most of the Year

I once read that Cryptantha crassipes grows only at one spot on Terlingua Creek but, in fact, its range is somewhat greater than that. Michael Eason, in his new book Wildflowers of Texas, has the most accurate habitat description I’ve found. He says that it is “found only in Brewster County in a small area north of Terlingua and Study Butte, in extremely xeric conditions.” The landscape photo at the top of this page shows the area. The small blue-grey plants in the lower left corner are this plant.

Yesterday there were at least three blossoms in an area of an acre or so where many of this species reside. When I started to photograph the flower, I found that a piece of the tripod was missing, so the image had to be taken hand-held. When this type of problem comes up, I usually just hold down the shutter release and take a dozen or more photos. One of them is bound to be in focus … right?

Well, one of them was, and here it is. The flower is about three millimeters in diameter.

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One of the Three Blossoms I Found

Lovely!

Anulocaulis leiosolenus

Big Bend Ringstem grows in roughly the same geographical area and is only slightly less restrictive of its habitat. This is another plant I wondered about for years, until I finally found one in bloom. Here Mr. Mouse Manglepaw, the sweety-pie dog, investigates the plant before suggesting an identification …

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This ringstem bears its flowers atop long, thin stems that seem to be locked in perpetual motion. However, once, just after a storm, there was a quiet moment and I was able to get this phone photo.

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Eriogonum suffruticosum

I’ve seen Bushy Wild-buckwheat blooming only once. And once again, I had only a phone camera with me, so this is the only photo I have.

Dirt Fest 2015
Bushy Wild Buckwheat

Eriogonum suffruticosum is listed in Rare Plants of Texas (Poole, Carr, Price & Singhurst) despite its three county distribution. It is almost certainly a gypsophile and it is usually found with other gypsum loving/tolerating plants such as Tiquilia hispidissima, Acacia schottii, Amsonia longiflora and Eriogonum havardii. Older plants sometimes show a large “weathered” trunk with the leaves grouped in tufts at the ends.

There are still many plants out here I haven’t identified yet, but the area has many surprises, and one can always hope for more blooms!

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About aneyefortexas

Retired writer/teacher/photographer, now photographing the Chihuahuan Desert at the Big Bend Ranch State Park, Texas.
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2 Responses to Three Rarities

  1. As always -I love getting a notification that you have a new post. Thanks – this was very interesting!

  2. deborah douglas says:

    Beautiful photos and even more beautiful writing. (Would that be beautifuler writing?) Keep those sharp eyes of yours open. Love, Deb P.S. My cataract surgery is scheduled for June 18th.

    Deborah Douglas, M. D. (210) 845-3077

    >

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