Nongame and Rare Species Program:
Federal and State Listed Plant Species
Terlingua Creek Cat's Eye
Other Scientific Names: None
Other Common Names: Terlingua Creek cryptantha
Status: Federally and State Endangered
Global Rank: G1
State Rank: S1
Global Location: Terlingua Creek catís-eye only grows in a very small area of southern Brewster County in West Texas.
Description: Terlingua Creek catís-eye is a perennial with a woody stem base and grows to 30 cm tall. The plant has a light gray appearance due to the many hairs on its 3-6 cm long leaves, which are very narrow (2-7 mm wide) and spoon- to teardrop-shaped. Most of the leaves are located near the base of the stem, and those that are located on the upper stem are smaller. The flowers form dense clusters 2-8 cm long and 1-2.5 cm wide at the tips of stems or from where the upper leaves come out of the stem. Each individual flower has a tube 8-9 mm long topped with 5 white petals and a bumpy yellow center. The fruit is composed of a group of four small (2.8-3.8 mm long), oval- to triangular-shaped seeds, each of which is slightly bumpy on one side and smooth (or barely uneven) on the other side.
Terlingua Creek catís-eye has very narrow, teardrop-shaped leaves, which mostly occur near the base of the stem, but some occur further up. The flowers form dense clusters.
Terlingua Creek catís-eye flowers have five white petals and a bumpy yellow center.
John Wells, The Field Lab.
Similar Species: Palmerís catís-eye (Cryptantha palmeri) bears its flowers more scattered along a central stem rather than the typically dense cluster of flowers capping Terlingua Creek catís-eyeís stem. The leaves along these floral stalks are also more abundant than the Terlingua Creek catís-eye. Paysonís cryptantha (Cryptantha paysonii) has a 12-14 mm long floral tube, 2.7-3 mm long seed, and a seed surface that is minutely wrinkled or warty on all sides. Furthermore, Paysonís cryptantha flowers form dense clusters at the end of the floral stalks, but also smaller secondary clusters below the main clusters. Although Havard's wild buckwheat (Eriogonum havardii) occurs in the same vicinity as Terlingua Creek catís-eye, differentiating between the two species should not be problematic when flowers or fruit are present. When only leaves and stem are present, Havardís wild buckwheat can be distinguished from Terlingua Creek catís-eye by its shorter, oval-shaped leaves (1-5 cm long, 2-10 mm wide) that grow only at the plantís base.
The leaves and flowers of Palmerís catís-eye are more abundant along the central stem.
Paysonís cryptantha flowers form smaller clusters near the top of the floral stalks and larger clusters at the top of the stalks.
Havardís wild buckwheat has shorter, oval-shaped leaves that grow only at the plantís base.
Habitat: Terlingua Creek catís-eye grows on almost seemingly barren, low hills of chalky limestone and gypsum-laced clays.
Life Cycle Events: Flowering occurs March to June, and subsequent fruits emerge in April to July.
Survey Season: Terlingua Creek catís-eye is most easily visible while in flower March to June, but easily identifiable throughout the year.
Comments: Bentonite mining occurs in the Terlingua Creek catís-eye general habitat and poses a potential threat to this extremely geographically and habitat limited species. Fencing has been erected around at least one population to decrease the combined impact of off-road vehicles and absentee private landowners (Warnock 2012).
For additional information see:
- U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service
- Center for Plant Conservation
- Correll, D.S. and M.C. Johnston. 1970. Manual of the Vascular Plants of Texas. Texas Research Foundation. Renner, TX.
- McKinney, B.R. 2000. Rare Plants, Birds, Mammals in the Trans-Pecos Ecoregion of Western Texas. Section 6 final report. Austin: Texas Parks & Wildlife Department.
- Warnock, Bonnie. 2012. Population biology, habitat description and delineation and conservation of Terlingua Creek Catís-eye (Cryptantha crassipes). Section 6 Final Report. Austin: Texas Parks & Wildlife Dept.