An easy, 1.0 mile, round-trip walk up a desert wash. Here, you'll transition from desert vegetation to plants that flourish where there's a little more soil moisture. As with any desert wash, use caution when hiking during the rainy season or anytime rain is in the forecast. Flash floods occur without much notice and the canyon walls are steep.
The illustrated list below features some of the most common plants you'll see once you start your walk up the wash.
Old Man's Beard Clematis drummondii
A clambering vine that is easily overlooked until it goes to seed in the late summer. The tufts of seedheads, with their long feathery tails, cover the vine.
Talayote Cynanchum racemosum
A twining milkweed vine that can completely cover the tree or shrub it clambers over. The tiny, creamy white flowers have the prominent central crown typical of milkweeds.
Trailing Four O'Clock Allionia incarnata
A common, vine-like plant that grows in the sand of desert washes. The pretty, bright pink flowers can be found year-round.
Resurrection Plant Selaginella lepidophylla
Resurrection plant is common on rocky slopes lining desert washes. For most of the year, the plant survives as a tightly curled, nest-like, brown ball. When it rains, the balls unfurl, and the plant turns emerald green as they start growing. Resurrection plants can also help you orient yourself. Thick patches of them occur only on north-facing slopes.
American Threefold Trixis californica
A low, leafy shrub with yellow flowers. American threefold usually blooms during the summer rainy season and into the fall.
Lindheimer's Senna Senna lindheimeriana
The yellow flowers of most of the 8 species of senna in the park look pretty much the same. To distinguish between the species, count the leaflet pairs and take note of the size of the plant. Lindheimer's senna has 5 to 8 pairs of leaflets and grow up to 6 ft. tall.
Feather Dalea Dalea formosa
A low shrub (it can grow to 3 ft. tall, but is usually only about 18 inches tall) with tiny leaves and stiff, crooked stems. In early spring and after sumer rains, feather dalea is covered in tiny magenta and yellow flowers. The white, feathery calyx tube that supports the flower gives the plant its common name.
Guayacan Guaiacum angustifolium
When people ask "What's that furry bush?", we know they've seen a guayacan. The small leaves tend to lay close to the stem, giving it a distinctly "furry" appearance. In the spring, purple flowers cover the branches. In the fall, guayacan is easily recognized by the bright red and yellow fruit. Guayacan is common along dry washes.
Catclaw Acacia Acacia greggii
Wait-a-minute bush! Watch for those recurved prickles on this common desert shrub. Catclaw thickets are common along desert washes and are a painful annoyance to hikers. But what draws blood from you provides invaluable shelter and food for wildlife.
Whitethorn Acacia Acacia constricta
Look closely and you'll see the straight, white prickles that give this desert shrub its name. In the summer, marble-sized, yellow flower balls cover the plant. Whitethorn acacia is most commonly found along dry washes in the desert although it also grows up in the Chisos Basin.
Evergreen Sumac Rhus virens
A large shrub with shiny, stiff leaves and tiny, white flowers in the spring and fall. Soaked in water, the acidic, red fruit makes a tart, yet refreshing, drink. All sumacs are in the same family as poison ivy and may cause a reaction to those that are extremely sensitive to poison ivy. Evergreen sumacs retain their leaves year-round and are commonly found in shaded canyons.
Texas Persimmon Diospyros texana
These small trees or shrubs are common in canyon washes. They have a distinctive, peeling bark, bell-shaped white flowers in the spring, and round, black fruit in the summer and fall. The fruit is one of the best-tasting wild fruits in Texas. Black bears love Texas persimmons, so be alert when hiking up a wash when the fruit is ripe. You don't want to scare a bear from its snack!
Desert Hackberry Celtis pallida
A shrubby tree with scraggly, zig-zag, spiny branches. The tiny white flowers are inconspicuous, but in summer and fall, the tangerine-orange fruit calls attention to the plant. The outer pulp of the fruit is sweet, but the seed is very hard.
Desert Willow Chilopsis linearis
One of the most common and conspicuous desert wash trees. Starting early in the spring, large pink to maroon flowers adorn the plant. The long, string-bean like seed pods can also be used to identify desert willows when not in bloom.
Mexican Buckeye Ungnadia speciosa
A small, bushy tree that frequently lines desert washes. In the early spring, the bare limbs of Mexican buckeye are covered with bright pink flowers. As the bloom ends, fresh, green leaves appear. When not in bloom, the tree is easily identified by the heavy seed pod containing three, shiny black seeds.