• The dunes in soft light

    White Sands

    National Monument New Mexico

There are park alerts in effect.
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  • Closures and Missile Tests

    Upcoming Missile Tests: From time to time the missile range that surrounds us performs missile testing that may require the closure of the park or Highway 70. Please follow the link below for up to date information on closures More »

  • Summer Monument Hours

    The monument currently opens at 7 a.m. and closes roughly 1 hour after sunset. More »

  • Road Safety Corridor

    The first four miles of Dunes Drive is a road safety corridor. Slowing or stopping in the corridor is prohibited. Dune Life Nature and Playa trails are also temporarily closed. The staff of White Sands National Monument apologizes for the inconvenience.

African Rue

African Rue

Photo by G.A. Cooper, courtesy of Smithsonian Institution

African Rue originated in North Africa and in the deserts of Asia, where it was used in the production of red dye. It was first recognized as an invasive species near Deming, New Mexico in the 1920s. The plant is highly toxic to both humans and animals if eaten, although dehulled seeds do produce an edible oil that is very similar to cottonseed oil.

African Rue can be recongized by its numerous, dense branching stems, which are bright green, smooth and fleshy, like its leaves. In the spring and summer, it produces small, five-petaled white flowers that grow at leaf axils along the stem. When crushed, the plant has a bitter, acrid taste and emits a very unpleasant odor.

Did You Know?

Photo of yucca growing on a dune

Some species of plants can survive burial by a moving dune by a process called "stem elongation." As the sand rises, the plants quickly grow upward to keep their leaves above the rising sand.