Chihuahuan Mixed Desert and Thornscrub

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Nature Serve ID: CES302.734


This system is particularly well-developed on limestone, but can occur on various other substrates.


Occupying limestone hills and slopes, gravel-capped ridges and slopes, as well as hills and slopes of igneous and sandstone substrates.


Rocky soils of Igneous Hill and Mountain, Limestone Hill and Mountain and other ecoclasses.

Parent Description

In this Chihuahuan Desert of Texas, this ecological system is widely distributed and often occupies footslopes and hilly landforms of limestones, sandstones, and igneous strata, though it is best developed on limestones. This shrubland can occur in proximity to Apacherian - Chihuahuan Semi-Desert Grassland and Steppe, Chihuahuan Creosotebush Desert Scrub, and/or Chihuahuan Succulent Desert Scrub. Larrea tridentata (creosotebush), Parthenium incanum (mariola), Condalia ericoides (javelina bush), Mimosa aculeaticarpa var. biuncifera (catclaw mimosa), Yucca torreyi (Torrey's yucca), Acacia constricta (whitethorn acacia), Agave lechuguilla (lechuguilla), Dasylirion leiophyllum (smooth sotol), Viguiera stenoloba (skeleton-leaf golden eye), Leucophyllum spp. (cenizo), and Prosopis glandulosa (honey mesquite) are often present to dominant, but numerous shrub species may be present. It differs from Chihuahuan Creosotebush Desert Scrub in having a diversity of shrub species present and is not a nearly monotypic stand of Larrea tridentata (creosotebush). Herbaceous cover is generally low with species such as Bouteloua eriopoda (black grama), Bouteloua ramosa (chino grama), Bouteloua curtipendula (sideoats grama), Bouteloua trifida (red grama), Aristida purpurea (purple threeawn), Dasyochloa pulchella (fluffgrass), and Muhlenbergia setifolia (curlyleaf muhly).

Ecological Mapping Systems