December Wildflowers

On a trip to Big Bend in mid-December, 2014, I found a surprising number of plants in bloom, and many species that I had not photographed before. The names of most of them stumped me so I relied on Roy Morey’s book “Little Big Bend” and Geyata Ajilvsgi’s “Wildflowers of Texas," along with various websites, including SEINet, USDA Plants, and And, before giving up, I resorted to the plant identification forum at, and almost always got a good lead if not the actual ID. 

The recent rains brought out a lot of blooms...not the proliferation that you see in April, but far more than I had expected. Below are several of the new species I found. 

These shots were all taken with a Nikon D300S and a Nikkor-Micro 70-180mm f/4.5-5.6 lens. Most were shot between f/14 and f/18. 


On the left is Hopi Tea Greenthread or Green Threads (Thelesperma megapotamicum). I found several of these plants on the trail to Ernst Tinaja, which is about 5 miles north of Park Rd 118 near the turnoff for Hot Springs. 

Slender, weak stems 2-3 ft. long support small solitary flower heads. Normally yellow, they turn darker with age like this one. Hopi tribes used the plants or tea and dye. 


Nearby along the trail I found a species of Clematis on the right. I think it’s either C. pitcheri (Purple Clematis) or C. drummondii (Old-man’s-beard). This plant had gone to seed, producing the striking display of silky tails you see here. A definite ID will have to wait until spring when it's in bloom.


These next two were found adjacent to one another, also at Ernst Tinaja. The one at the right is Havard Fiddleleaf (Nama Havardii) and the below is Mat Nama (Nama torynophylla). Although small, the Fiddleaf is easily spotted because of its bright pink flowers. Mat nama is not so obvious because the plant is much smaller and the blossoms are tiny, less than 1/4 inch long.  



Near Sierra de Chino in the southwest part of the park I found a lot of different flowers, one being the Trans-Pecos Senna (Senna pilosior) to the right. 

If you look closely you might even see some dew…in Big Bend!


Nearby in a sandy dry wash I found Mesa Greggia (Nerisyrenia camporum), on the left. It is also called Bicolor Mustard. The plants have white and lavender or pink blooms and have grayish-green, curly, hairy leaves. 

Yup, that is dew. It was a very humid morning with dense fog early. The camera lens fogged up, too.


The last one I wanted to show has the unusual name Edwards'-hole-in-the-sand plant (Nicolletia edwardsii). I have no idea where the common name came from. There are a large number growing in the gravel adjacent to road above Glenn Springs. 

The plant is very short and resembles a small, tangled-up wad of wire, green when blooming, otherwise black. The pale pink/white blooms are very striking in contrast to the stark environment. 

You can see more wildflower images from Big Bend here.

© Tom Lebsack 2018