Cacti of the Trans-Pecos

Areocarpus fissuratus

Ariocarpus fissuratus (Living Rock Cactus)

This is not a complete checklist of all the cacti living in the Trans-Pecos; it is instead, a list of the cacti you can find in the Chihuahuan Desert parks in the state: Guadalupe Mountains National Park, Big Bend Ranch State Park, or Big Bend National Park. Nearly every cactus that lives in all three parks is included here. Cacti that inhabit only tiny areas are omitted, as most people will never encounter them.

Some of these cacti grow widely in all three parks. Others are restricted by soil, terrain, slope, sun and/or other habitat requirements, but they’re there. Popular names are shown in parenthesis. Many cacti have multiple popular names, so I have chosen the name commonly used by the natives of the Big Bend area.

Ancistrocactus tobuschii (Tobusch Fishook Cactus)

Ancistrocactus brevihamatus var pallidus (Snipe Cactus)

Ariocarpus fissuratus var fissuratus (Living Rock Cactus)

Coryphantha dasyacantha (Desert Pincushion Cactus)

Coryphantha duncanii (Duncan’s pincushion cactus)

Coryphantha sneedii var albicolumnaria (Silverlace Cactus)

Coryphantha tuberculosa var tuberculosa (Cob Cactus)

Coryphantha tuberculosa var varicolor (Varicolor Cob Cactus)

Coryphantha macromeris var macromeris (Big-Needle Pincushion Cactus)

Coryphantha scheeri var scheeri (Long-Tubercled Coryphantha)

Coryphantha echinus var echinus (Sea-Urchin Cactus)

Coryphantha echinus var robusta (Miltistemmed Sea-Urchin Cactus)

Echinocereus coccineus var paucispinus (Texas Claret Cup)

Echinocereus x rotteri var neomexicanus (Lloyds Hedgehog Cactus)

Echinocereus dasycanthus (Texas Rainbow Cactus)

Echinocereus enneacanthus (Strawberry Cactus, Pitaya)

Echinocereus stramineus var stramineus (Strawberry Cactus, Pitaya)

Echinocereus viridiflorus var russanthas (Rusty Hedgehog Cactus)

Echinocactus horizonthalonius (Eagle-Claw Cactus)

Echinocactus texensis (Horse-Crippler)

Echinomastus intertextus var intertextus (Woven-Spine Pineapple Cactus)

Echinomastus warnockii (Warnock’s Cactus)

Echinomastus mariposensis (Mariposa Cactus)

Epithelantha micromeris var micromeris (Common Button Cactus)

Epithelantha bokei (Boke’s Button Cactus)

Ferocactus hamatacanthus var hamatacanthus (Giant Fishook Cactus)

Glandulicactus uncinatus var wrightii (Eagle Claw Cactus)

Mammillaria lasiacantha (Golf Ball Cactus)

Mammillaria pottsii (Potts’ Mammillaria)

Mammillaria meiacantha (Nipple Cactus)

Mammillaria heyderi var heyderi (Heyder’s Pincushion Cactus)

Neolloydia conoidea var conoidea (Texas Cone Cactus)

Opuntia aggeria (Clumped Dog Cholla)

Opuntia schottii var grahamii (Graham’s Dog Cholla)

Opuntia imbricata var arborescens (Tree Cholla)

Opuntia leptocaulis (Christmas cholla)

Opuntia kleiniae (Candle Cholla)

Opuntia rufida (Blind Prickly Pear)

Opuntia azurea var diplopurpurea (Diploid Purple Prickly Pear)

Opuntia azurea var parva (Big Bend Purplish Prickly Pear)

Opuntia azurea var comanchica (Comanche Prickly Pear)

Opuntia dulcis (Sweet Prickly Pear)

Opuntia engelmanii var engelmanii (Engelman’s Prickly Pear)

Peniocereus greggii var greggii (Night-Blooming Cereus)

Thelocactus bicolor (Glory of Texas)



About aneyefortexas

Retired writer/teacher/photographer, now photographing the Chihuahuan Desert at the Big Bend Ranch State Park, Texas.
This entry was posted in Big Bend Ranch State Park, cacti, plant, Plants, Texas and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

4 Responses to Cacti of the Trans-Pecos

  1. Excellent list! I intended to do a layperson’s checklists of various trails I used in ABQ and El Paso, plus other places, concentrating on species one could use in landscaping. Life got in the way, but maybe I need to resume that endeavor!

  2. John White says:

    Gary, Great list you have put together. I always look forward to your posts as they are so informative and great photography. Is there a website that has the listing of plants found in the state parks of west texas?

    • Hi John. In answer to your question, I don’t know of such a list. The way I developed this one was to look in Powell and Weedin’s cactus book (1983 I believe,) and mapped the ranges shown, limiting those to TransPecos Guadalupe, Big Bend and BB Ranch State park. I did this for a presentation to the Cactus folk in Tucson. I didn’t extend my efforts to smaller parks because I was writing for an out-of-state audience.

      BTW — I’m using the list for a Kiosk show here at the park, and in the process of verifying things, discovered I was using out-of-date names for many species. I’ve got a Mind Map of the corrected names and will revise/replace the current listing in the blog as time, and the internet permits.

      The P&W book is not infallible — I found a section not listed in the TOC, and a species range that nobody else agrees with. I don’t think it’s his scholarship — just errors introduced by the publisher. So I took the new “Flowering Plants of the Trans-Pecos etc ” as the authority, though it does not include range maps.

      BTW the P&W book comes in two flavors — the one for the popular press has photos and distribution maps; the one for scholars is straight text so is very difficult to use for questions of range.

      It’s good to hear from you. I have fond memories of my visit to El Paso.


      • Steve says:

        Gary / John,

        I volunteer at Davis Mountains State Park and there is a pdf file of plants known to grow there. If either or both of you would like me to email it let me know; my email address is: All the best, Steve

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