Terlingua Creek Cat's-eye (Cryptantha crassipes)

Photograph of the Terlingua Creek Cat's-eye


Other Names
Terlingua Creek Cryptantha
Texas Status
U.S. Status
Endangered, Listed 9/30/1991
Terlingua Creek cat's-eye is a perennial herb with flowering stems to 2 feet tall, arising from a cluster of silvery basal leaves.
Life History
Terlingua Creek cat's-eye grows in an extremely small area in west Texas that is perhaps the most extreme environment in Texas. All known populations of the plant occur within a six-mile radius. In this area, aptly termed the "moonscape" by many people in the area, plants are widely spaced (sometimes dozens of feet apart). Probably the reason behind this sparse arrangement is the presence of gypsum in the soil. The geologic formation, the Fizzle Flat Lentil, on which Terlingua Creek cat's-eye occurs, is thought to have a high content of this mineral. Few plants are adapted to grow where the gypsum content is high. The plant blooms primarily March - May; with fruit probably maturing April-June. Because of the barrenness of the site, off-road vehicles use the area, damaging the plants and the habitat.
Terlingua Creek cat's-eye is found in badlands almost devoid of vegetation, with low rolling hills covered with platelets of creamy-yellow limestone (probably with a high level of gypsum).
It is found only in Brewster county.

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