Flora associated with Lophophora williamsii in Texas
Common vegetation in the Tamaulipan Brushland:
(AKA “chaparral” or “thorn scrub” or “desert scrub” or “scrub brush”)
Acacia amentacea (“black-brush acacia”) [Note 17], Castela texana (“amargoso”), Celtis pallida (“granjeno”), Karwinskia humboltiana (“coyotillo”), Leucophyllum frutescens (“cenizo”), Porlieria (Guaiacum) angustifolia (“guayacan”), Prosopis juliflora (“scrub mesquite”), Larrea tridentata (“gobernadora” or “creosote bush”) and Condalia obovata (“brazil”).
In south Texas, Peyote grows in association with Yucca, Opuntia spp., Opuntia leptocaulis (“tasajillo”) and Echinocereus spp. (“pitaya”).
In Starr county, both Echinocereus pentalophus (“lady’s fingers”) and the charming endemic dwarf, Coryphantha robertii, are not infrequently associated with it in those areas near Rio Grande City where C. robertii is distributed.
Peyote’s highest populations in Texas, now, is in those areas referred to by many people as “impenetrable thorny scrub”.
In the Chihuahuan Desert it occurs in both the subdivision classified by desert scrub such as Larrea tridentata, Prosopis laevigata and Flourensia cernua, and also in the subdivision characterized by desert scrub incorporating many plants such as Agave lechuguilla and Yucca spp.
Plants associated with Chihuahuan Desert peyote and the percentage of frequency of co-occurrence according to Anderson 1980:
Larrea tridentata (“creosote bush”) over 75%
Jatropha dioica (“leather plant”) 70%
Opuntia leptocaulis (“pencil cactus”) 70%
Prosopis laevigata (“mesquite”) 70%
Agave lechuguilla (“lechuguilla”) 50%
Echinocactus horizonthalonius (“eagle’s claw cactus”) 50%
Mammillaria spp. (“fish-hook” or “nipple cactus”) 50%
Flourensia cernua (“tarbush”) 50%
Acacia spp. (“acacia”) 40%
Condalia spp. (“lotebush”) 40%
Coryphantha spp. 40%
Neolloydia spp. 40%
Yucca filifera (“yucca”) 40%
Hamatocactus spp. 40%
Coldenia (Tiquilia) canescens less than 40%
Euphorbia antisyphilitica (“wax plant”) less than 40%
Koeberlinia spinosa (“crucifixion thorn”) less than 40%
(The percentages given by Anderson were obtained as the ratio of the number of peyote sites where Anderson found that particular plant species to occur compared to the total number of peyote sites that he investigated in his 1960 dissertation. (That ratio was converted to a percentage.) Those 10 sites were Chihuahuan Desert populations and most, but not all, of them were Lophophora williamsii. One was Lophophora diffusa and another population was later determined by Dr. Terry to be Lophophora koehresii.)
Anderson 1980 pages 149-151
and personal observations.
Due primarily to the opportunity presenting itself, it was decided to attempt the photodocumention of as much of the associated flora as opportunity permitted. Seven sites containing Lophophora williamsii populations have been explored with this goal in mind during the course of other field work occurring in 2009-2014. Three of those populations were in Tamaulipan thornscrub (two in Starr County and one in Jim Hogg County) and four locales were in the Chihuahuan Desert (one each in Brewster, Presidio, Terrell & Val Verde). In six cases I was able to photograph the existing Lophophora population and the accompanying vegetation, and in the other I was only able to focus on acquiring imagery of Astrophytum asterias and companions, as time did not permit the inclusion of the nearby Lophophora williamsii population. Some additional photographs showing close-up details of plants were obtained on properties in Maverick, Starr and Hildalgo Counties were peyote was not found. Those form the basis of the preliminary survey that this listing & photo collection represents. The basis of the listing at the Cactus Conservation website is simple, if we could find an instance of a plant growing with or near peyote that note was added to the list. If the observed relationship was one of being a nurse plant that was noted. In only a very few cases is a plant listed as associated based on someone else’s reported observation. A simple listing of those species and a representative sampling of images is included here. For far more images visit the CactusConservation.com website.
This should be regarded as an in-progress work presently limited to a very small sampling of Texas populations.
At all seven of those sites just mentioned there were at least one Acacia species, at least one Condalia species, some nature of at least one crust community, an Echinocactus species, at least one Echinocereus species, Jatropha dioica, Koeberlinia spinosa, at least one Leucophyllum species, assorted lichens, a Mammillaria species, at least one Opuntia species, Opuntia leptocaulis and at least one Yucca species.
Castela texana, at least one Coryphantha sp, an Ephedra, Porlieria, a Prosopis, Schaeferia, a Tiquilia, a Thymophylla and a Viguiera were observed at all but one site each and may have been overlooked at those exceptions.
Agave lechuguilla, Euphorbia antisyphilitica, and Larrea tridentata were present at all four West Texas sites.
As should be expected, Agave lechuguilla, Euphorbia antisyphilitica, and Larrea tridentata were absent from all South Texas sites. Karwinskia humboldtiana was present at all South Texas sites that included Lophophora as well all of the additional properties we visited in South Texas that lacked any Lophophora.
Many other plants are also potential nurse plants and I may easily have missed spotting or capturing an image. Numerous plants were encountered that have not yet been identified.
Many additional species were anticipated that have thusfar been elusive; and no doubt many instances of companion plants are yet to be recorded.
The photographic documentation project can be found online at the Cactus Conservation Institute website. It is still in mid-assembly and has much left to do but future work will continue to be added to these two pages at their website:
Flora associated with Lophophora williamsii in Texas
South Texas: Tamaulipan thornscrub
(This is the biotic zone containing the South Texas Peyote Gardens)
Castela erecta var. texana
Coryphantha robertii (now lumped with Escobaria emskoetteriana)
Dolichothele (Mammillaria) sphaerica
Echinocereus reichenbachii var. fitchii
Euphorbia (Chamaesyce) spp.
mosses (occassional not typical)
Opuntia engelmannii var. lindheimeri
Thamnosma texana var. texana
Zexmenia (Jeffea) brevifolia
Zexmenia (Weddelia) hispida
Euphorbia antisyphilitica & Agave lechuguilla in Presidio County
West Texas: Chihuahuan desert
Acacia greggii var. wrightii
Ariocarpus fissuratus commonly near Lophophora but usually not together.
Castella erecta var. texana
crust communities (many)
Echinocactus horizonthalonius – same comment as Ariocarpus fissuratus
Echinocereus coccineus (often in area but only occasionally together)
Echinocereus dasyacanthus (often found nearby but rarely together)
Echinocereus pectinatus var. wenigeri
Echinocereus viridiflorus russanthus
assorted grass species
Mahonia (Berberis) trifoliolata
Mammillaria heyderi (common, often unclear which came first)
Mammillaria meiacantha (nearby but not together)
Opuntia (Grusonia) aggeria
Opuntia mackensenii minor
Porlieria (Guaiacum) angustifolia
Thamnosma texana var. purpurea
Mexico: A similar project is needed for the populations in Mexico. Due to the wide range of Lophophora in Mexico that will be a tremendous undertaking.
Bohata et al 2005 noted observing the following cactus species with Lophophora in Mexico:
Ariocarpus fissuratus subsp. bravoanus
Ariocarpus fissuratus subsp. hintonii
Ariocarpus fissuratus subsp. lloydii
Ariocarpus retusus f. elongatus
Ariocarpus retusus subsp. scapharostroides
Ancistrocactus uncinatus subsp. wrightii
Astrophytum myriostigma subsp. columnaris
Astrophytum capricorne f. major
Astrophytum capricorne f. minor
Astrophytum capricorne subsp. niveum
Astrophytum capricorne subsp. senile var. aureum
“and many others”
Observable in Cactus Conservation Institute photographs online:
Castella erecta texanum