Cacti of the El Paso, Texas Region

Photographer: Clark Champie, El Paso, TX

The text and photographs on this page were contributed by Clark Champie who has written two books on the cacti of this area. Clark Champie died on June 25th 1998. Anyone wanting more information can contact Clark Champie Jr. who is the technical intermediary for this page


Coryphantha vivipara var. radiosa

Morning Star. This species is one of the most difficult to catch in flower because it flowers only one day each year. The flowers don't open till about noon. They start closing about five P.M. Just how all the members of this widely scattered species manage to flower on the same day during the summer is not clearly understood.

JPG picture: 114K

Echinocereus pectinatus, var. neomexicanus (Benson)

Traditionally: Echinocereus dasyacanthus
Common name: Texas Rainbow
The Texas Rainbow grows widely over the El Paso area but always in the mountains or foothills. The specimen shown in the photo illustrates the characteristic bands on this species, explaining the origin of its common name.

JPG Pictures: 97K and 86K.

Opuntia phaeacantha Engelm. var. discata (Griffiths)

Traditionally: Opuntia engelmannii
Common name: Engelmann's Prickly Pear
Yellow and orange flowers on the same plant is a rare occurrence. I have only seen it on the west side of the Franklin Mountains. One explanation is that this plant might be a hybrid, possibly with Opuntia violacea. The yellow flower is typical of Engelmanns Prickly Pear.

JPG Picture: 25K.

Echinocereus chloranthus Engelm

Common name: Brown-flowered Pitaya
General Distribution: El Paso area, west Texas, northern Mexico, and New Mexico.
El Paso habitat: occurs on hillsides and nearby plains in the Franklins.
Size: cylindrical, up to 10 inches or more high and up to 3 inches in diameter. Flowers: small, ranging in color from yellowish brown to reddish brown, sometimes surrounding the plant between the middle and top. These plants are collected more for their beautiful spination than for their flower.

JPG Picture: 42K

Mammillaria gummifera var. applanta (Engelm.)

Traditionally: Mammillaria applanta
Common names: Cream Cactus, Pincushion
General distribution: El Paso area, west Texas, southern New Mexico, Mexico, southern Arizona
El Paso habitat: occurs rather generally over the entire area but not abundant in any one place. Usually in a lechuguilla patch or other protected place on the plains or in the mountains.
Size: barely shows above ground level with much of the plant buried in the soil--up to 5 inches in diameter.
Flower: small, pinkish white in a circle on the top of the plant in March or April.

JPG Picture: 58K

Echinocereus fendleri (Englm.)

Common name: Fendler's Cactus
General distribution: El Paso area and northern Mexico, southern New Mexico, Arizona, and Utah
El Paso habitat: mostly on the gentle slopes and plains near the Franklins and Organ Mountains.
Size: near the Franklins, one to three stems, of various heights, the tallest 5 to 6 inches. Sometimes a cluster of several stems.
Flower: large, purple, in April or May.

JPG Picture: 45K

Echinocereus viridiflorus var. cylindricus

Common name: Green-flowered Pitaya
General distribution: in a narrow band stretching from the Big Bend of Texas and Mexico to southern New Mexico.
El Paso habitat: mainly in the Franklin Mts.
Size: up to eight of ten inches in height and about three inches in diameter. More often on stem but two or more stems are not uncommon.
Flower: small, greenish to dark red, in March or April. Fruit soon follows, about the size of a small grape, green at first and later turning a purplish red.

JPG Picture: 59K

Echinocereus triglochidiatus var. gurneyi

Traditionally: Echinocereus rosei
Common name: Claret Cup
Comments: This is perhaps the most popular local species because of its beautiful flowers. It is becoming more difficult to find in the immediate El Paso area.
General distribution: El Paso and west Texas, northern Mexico and southern New Mexico.
El Paso habitat: Franklin Mountains and plains approaching them.
Size: often two to five or six stems but frequently clumps of ten or more. Individual stems 10 inches to 14 inches in height and as much as 4 inches in diameter.
Flower: reddish to orange, April and May, staying open day and night for several days.

JPG Pictures: 64K, 59K and 74K



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