The Plants

Texas Rainbow Cactus

Family: Cactaceae

Latin Name: Echinocereus Dasyacanthus

Also knows as Spiny Hedgehog Cactus, these beautiful bloomers are found mainly in the Big Bend region and grow ~15″ high and to a 4″ diameter. As they age they can branch and grow several heads. Spines are typically white or cream colored but yearly variations produce rainbow-like bands, thus the “Texas Rainbow Cactus”. Flowers can be 6″ long and typically bloom March-May but depending on conditions can bloom as late as July.


Family: Agavaceae

Latin name: Agave Lechuguilla

Lechuguilla means “small lettuce”, though the plant is actually a poisonous species of agave and should not be eaten like lettuce. It’s an indicator species of the Chihuahuan desert and is mostly found in calcareous(limestone) soils. The tips of the leaves are very sharp and can penetrate clothing and even leather. Lechuguilla flowers once at the end of its long 7-20 year lifespan, sending up a 7 foot stalk before withering and dying.



Family: Fabaceae(Legumes)

Latin name: Prosopis spp.

There are three species of Mesquite endemic to the Chihuahuan Desert and we have a lovely thicket in the low part of our land. Like most Legumes, they’re nitrogen-fixing which is important for most plant germination and growth. These trees are well adapted to arid environments with deep water-reaching roots. They range in size from just a few feet up to fifteen. They have sharp, thorny branches which flower in Spring, and produce edible beans leading in to Summer.


Family: Fouquieriasaea

Latin name: Fouquieria Splendens

While at first glance this spiny plant may appear to be another cactus, Ocotillo are actually large shrubs indigenous to the Sonoran and Chihuahuan deserts. These clusters of long spiny cane-like branches can grow up to 33ft tall! Often appearing dry and dead, the ocotillo will grow small oval green leaves after each rainfall and can go an impressive amount of time without any water. Beautiful flowers bloom in spring and summer and attract hummingbirds and native carpenter bees.


Family: Zygophyllacaea

Latin name: Larrea Tridentata

Creosote, or Greasewood, is a prominent plant in three of the four North American deserts appearing in all but the Great Basin. It quickly establishes itself in open spaces acting as somewhat of a pioneer species for the desert, providing shade and blocking the wind allowing growth to happen underneath their protection. This is somewhat counteracted by the allelopathic tendencies of their fallen leaves which can prevent seed germination in the areas surrounding them. Still they’re often found sheltering cacti, especially the Tassajillo which often grow intertwined with the Cresote’s branches. The leaves exhibit a distinct smell which is particularly pungent when it rains, this is the source of the name of our cosmetic line Terlingua Rain

Cane Cholla

Family: Cactaceae

Latin name: Cylindropuntia Imbricata

Also known as the “Walking Stick Cholla”, this particular cholla is abundant in the Southwest and all around us here in Big Bend Valley. They have a tree-like silhouette and reach anywhere between 3 and 15 feet tall. Tubular branches produce sharp spines, bright magenta flowers and a yellowish fruit (also covered in glochids. Cane Cholla can reproduce by seed but also have the ability to drop a joint of their branch and grow roots. Decaying stems leave a beautiful hollow wooden tube with lengthwise slit patterning and make exceptional canes, as long as you find one sturdy enough!

Living Rock Cactus

Family: Cactaceae

Latin name: Ariocarpus Fissuratus

A very slow growing, spine-less cactus, Living Rock is not only sparse but also difficult to see because of its camouflage and small size. Found only in Northern Mexico and the Big Bend region of Texas, Living Rock are protected because of their poaching popularity(tens of thousands are poached each year), leading to even smaller population sizes. They inhabit arid, rocky areas in the Chihuahuan Desert and though small on top, have large taproots to help them last in drought conditions. Brightly colored flowers bloom in late fall and early winter, making them a little easier to spot.

Laura Shaw

Owner of Terlingua Oasis Project

Former Bartender, Baker, Forager, Trail Guide, Cowboy, and Horse Trainer(which I’ve returned to part time).  I decided to lay down roots in the desert and help enact ecological and social change in the area by starting the Terlingua Oasis Project.

-Laura Shaw

Terlingua Rain

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Laura's Flora