The Side of the Serpentine Outcrop

The sides of the outcrop are steep, rocky, and fully exposed to sun and wind. The plants that flourish here are true survivors.

In this shot are Mesquite, (Prosopis glandulosa), Prickly Pear cactus (Opuntia), a very small Juniper (probably Juniperus ashei), and some white Prickly Poppies (Argemone).


This is Argemone polyanthemos. The white flowers are very showy, but the plant is so prickly that it is very unpleasant to deal with. In the upper left of the close-up image, the sepals can be seen coming loose as a unit from an opening flower bud. They will fall as the flower opens, which is why the open flowers appear to have no sepals. The petals fall very quickly if the blossom is picked, making it hard to get a good collection for pressing.


The outcrop is dotted with colonies of cactus. We were pleased to find some in flower. The cactus below is Echinocactus triglochidatus (claret-cup cactus).

Some clusters looked like small sculptures; others looked like little groups of tiny people. Cacti are notoriously hard to press for specimens, and we weren't sure if this other cactus was a rare species, so we did not collect any (always a good rule with cacti!). We think this beauty is Mammillaria heyderi, commonly known as Little Nipple Cactus.

Flax--Linum--is also very common on the slopes. This could be one of several species--our guess is L. hudsonioides. (We somehow managed to arrive home without a collection!)


Here is one we are sure about--White Rock-Lettuce, Pinaropappus roseus. It's a member of the Asteraceae and has heads that resemble pink or white dandelions. The leaves are very narrow and toothed. The plants were fairly inconspicuous until midday--before then, the heads were tightly shut.


The flowers of Sisyrinchium ensigerum (Blue-Eyed Grass) stayed closed until after lunch also. They were similar to this Sisyrinchium that was photographed closer to home. In Texas, this member of the Iridaceae or Iris Family has several species, some of which tend to interbreed.


Midway up the slope, in a shady area beneath some Hackberries (Celtis) and Oaks (Quercus), we spotted some plants we were glad we recognized before we picked them. This is Urtica chamaedryoides, Heart-Leaf Nettle or Ortiguilla. The whole plant is covered with stinging hairs which can cause a rather painful rash. Its flowers are in small clusters in the axils of the leaves. They're tiny and very reduced structurally.


Continue Exploring the Side of the Outcrop or Go back to the Introduction

Last updated August 3, 1998 by Monique Reed