Madrean Encinal

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Nature Serve ID: CES305.795


This system may occur on various substrates including Permian limestones of Guadalupe Mountains, Tertiary igneous formations, and sandstone formation, and even colluvial/alluvial substrates at middle elevations in mountainous areas of the Trans-Pecos.


Mountain slopes and rolling uplands in mountainous areas.


This system may occur on a wide range of soils, often rocky or gravelly, derived from limestone, sandstone, or igneous parent material. It may also occur on loams and alluvial surfaces.

Parent Description

This system sometimes co-occurs with the Madrean Pinyon-Juniper Woodland and also grades into the Madrean Lower Montane Pine-Oak Forest and Woodland at higher elevations. It may replace the pinyon-juniper woodland at lower elevations and grade into desert grasslands, desert shrublands or montane chaparral. These lower elevation occurrences tend to be more open woodlands and savannas. Oak species typically dominate these woodlands with species such as Quercus grisea (gray oak), Quercus emoryi (Emory oak), Quercus hypoleucoides (silverleaf oak), Quercus arizonica (Arizona white oak), and/or Quercus rugosa (netleaf oak). On limestone, Quercus mohriana (Mohr’s shin oak) may be common. Various pine and juniper species, such as Juniperus deppeana (alligator juniper), Pinus cembroides (Mexican pinyon pine), Pinus edulis (pinyon pine, in the Guadalupe Mountains region), may be conspicuous elements of the canopy. This system may be present as a shrubland, closed woodland, or open woodland. In addition to the oak, pine, and juniper species, other shrubs that may be encountered include Mimosa aculeaticarpa var. biuncifera (catclaw mimosa), Mimosa dysocarpa (velvetpod mimosa), Rhus trilobata (skunkbush sumac), and Cercocarpus montanus (mountain mahogany). Viguiera stenoloba (skeleton-leaf golden eye), Parthenium incanum (mariola), and other species common to the deserts of lower elevations may be present to common. Nolina texana (Texas sacahuista), Dasylirion leiophyllum (smooth sotol), Opuntia imbricata (tree cholla), and Agave spp. (agaves) are commonly encountered. The herbaceous layer is typically dominated by graminoids such as Muhlenbergia emersleyi (bull muhly), Bouteloua curtipendula (sideoats grama), Bouteloua gracilis (blue grama), Bouteloua hirsuta (hairy grama), Bouteloua eriopoda (black grama), Piptochaetium fimbriatum (pinyon ricegrass), and Heteropogon contortus (tanglehead), but this layer may be sparse.

Ecological Mapping Systems