Nature and Science
Native Lantana

(John Labadie, Artist in Residence)

Amistad National Recreation Area's flora contains elements from three major plant communities. This is due to our location in a transition zone between a more humid Gulf of Mexico-influenced climate, the drier Chihuahuan Desert, and the hills of the Edwards Plateau.

A report on the plant species of Amistad National Recreaiton Area was compiled by botanists from Texas Parks and Wildlife Department, with funding from the National Park Service. Click the following link to view the report: An Inventory of the Vascular Plants of Amistad National Recreation Area, Val Verde County, Texas. (Access granted by the author and the publisher.) As new plant species are documented in the park, staff keep the species list updated here.

Amistad's Plant Communities

Tamaulipan Shrubland
Our region is at the western limits of a Gulf of Mexico-influenced climate. Plants common to the southeast, from the state of Tamaulipas, Mexico, are at their northern and western limits. These plants have adapted to a very irregular precipitation pattern with frequent high humidity. The Tamaulipan Shrubland is characterized by the many species of acacia;including huisache, blackbrush, and guajillo (scientific names can be found in our Field Guide section). Cenizo, mesquite, and retama are other species typical of this more tropical flora.
Chihuahuan Desert
Many plants from the Chihuahuan Desert have their eastern limits in the Amistad area. Creosote bush, lechuguilla, and a variety of cactus species are good examples. By the time you reach the Big Bend region, the vegetation consists of true desert species.
Edwards Plateau
Some species, like oaks and junipers (cedars), are occasionally found around the reservoir, especially in the upper reaches of the Devils River. They represent Edwards Plateau flora from the north. The Edwards Plateau is also known as the Texas Hill Country.

The Herbarium at Amistad National Recreation Area
The plants of Amistad National Recreation Area help define the landscape of the park. Over 700 plant species have been identified in our park!

How are specimens preserved?
Park personnel and other researchers often collect plants during scientific field work. The plant specimens are prepared for permanent storage in a herbarium by drying them and attaching them to special paper with glue. The prepared herbarium collections are stored in sealed cabinets in the park’s museum building. The collections of dried plants and the information about each specimen provide park scientists and managers with information useful in making decisions for protecting the park’s resources.

How are specimens chosen?
A sprig of a stem, a flower, or a leaf is usually not enough for a botanist to include in a herbarium collection. The best herbarium specimen will have flowers or fruits along with stems, leaves, and sometimes, depending on the kind of plant, roots as well. But without the flowers or fruits, a plant collection is not complete. To be most useful, the information about the plant must include where and when the plant was collected, the name of the person who made the collection, and a brief description of the plant itself.

Suggested references:

Agnes Chase's First Book of Grasses, 4th ed.
Lynn G. Clark and Richard W. Pohl, 1996. Smithsonian Institute Press, Washington, DC.
Cacti of the Trans-Pecos and Adjacent Areas.
A. Michael Powell and James F. Weedin, 2004. Texas Tech University Press, Lubbock, Texas.
Common Texas Grasses.
Frank W. Gould, 1978. Texas A&M University Press, College Station, TX.
The Ferns and Lycophytes of Texas.
George M. Diggs, Jr. and Barney L. Lipscomb, 2014. Botanical Research Institute of Texas, Fort Worth, TX.
Grasses of the Trans-Pecos and Adjacent Areas.
A. Michael Powell, 2000. Iron Mountain Press, Austin, TX.
Guide to Texas Grasses.
Robert B. Shaw, 2012. Texas A&M University Press, College Station, TX.
Identifying Plants by Family and Genus: Wildflowers and Shrubs of the Western United States.
Kristin Quinlan, 2000. Xlibris Corporation,
Medicinal Plants of the Desert and Canyon Southwest.
Michael Moore, 1989. Museum of New Mexico Press, Santa Fe, New Mexico.
Plant Identification and Terminology: An Illustrated Glossary, 2nd ed.
James G. Harris and Melinda W. Harris, 2001. Spring Lake Publishing, Spring Lake, UT.
Shrubs and Trees of the Southwest Uplands.
Francis H. Elmore, 1976. Southwest Parks and Monuments Association, Tucson, AZ.
Trees, Shrubs, & Cacti of South Texas.
James H. Everitt and D. Lynn Drawe, 1993. Texas Tech University Press, Lubbock, TX.
Trees and Shrubs of the Trans-Pecos and adjacent areas.
Michael Powell, 1998. University of Texas Press, Austin.
Wildflowers of the Big Bend Country.
Barton H. Warnock, 1970. Sul Ross State University, Alpine, TX. (out of print)Wildflowers of Texas, rev. ed.Ajilvsgi, Geyata, 2002. Schearer Publishing, Fredricksburg, TX.

  • Science & Research - Information on how to obtain permits to conduct research, and a detailed description on the herbarium at Amistad National Recreation Area.

Last updated: November 27, 2018

Park footer

Contact Info

Mailing Address:

10477 Highway 90 West
Del Rio , TX 78840


(830) 775-7491

Contact Us

Stay Connected