• The Western Escarpment of the Guadalupes rises above the white gypsum sands of the desert floor.

    Guadalupe Mountains

    National Park Texas

Trees and Shrubs

tree silhouette against the sky

Most tree species are found in higher elevations in the park, or are restricted to canyons and riparian zones.

NPS Photo - Michael Haynie

In much of the Chihuahuan desert, shrubs, succulents, and cacti, dominate the landscape, while trees are few in number and in total number of species. Trees generally need more water, cooler temperatures, and higher humidity than the desert climate has to offer, and that restricts them to ridge tops, canyons and riparian zones. Those that do grow in the lower desert elevations, such as honey mesquite, Prosopis glandulosa, often grow no taller than shrubs and are easily confused with shrubs because they possess similar physical characteristics such as small leaves and sharp spines.

Shrubs, on the other hand, are numerous and widespread in the Chihuahuan desert. Average elevations in this desert (above 3000’) allow for colder winters which many shrub species can tolerate, while most cacti and succulents cannot.

Did You Know?

Big Tooth Maples turn color in the Guadalupes in late October or early November.

As the green chlorophyll pigment in an aging leaf disintegrates and disappears, other pigments or colors already within the leaf appear. For example, shades of yellow and orange, are caused by the presence of xanthophyll and carotin.