CPC Plant Profile: Terlingua Creek Cat's-eye
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Plant Profile

Terlingua Creek Cat's-eye (Cryptantha crassipes)

Cryptantha crassipes is endemic to a unique geologic formation composed of creamy yellow patches of silty limestone with a high level of gypsum. A flowering patch can be seen in the bottom portion of the image. Photo Credit: Kathy Rice
Description
  • Global Rank: G1 - Critically Imperiled
  • Legal Status: Federally Endangered
  • Family: Boraginaceae
  • State: TX
  • Nature Serve ID: 142438
  • Date Inducted in National Collection: 04/04/1991

Cryptantha crassipes, a long-lived herbaceous perennial in the Borage family, is an unusual clump-forming plant with leaves that are covered with silvery-gray hairs. Clumps develop gradually, beginning as seedlings, then forming a new ring of leaf-clusters each growing season. A black sooty fungus-like growth is found on bases of the majority of the clumps, and occasional clumps are entirely black, appearing dead. Leaves are topped with clusters of white flowers with bright yellow centers. Plants flower and fruit in April/May. The fruit consists of 4 nutlets that are egg-shaped and very hairy. (USFWS 1994).

Participating Institutions
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Updates
  • 09/07/2020
  • Propagation Research

.This Garden has also performed germination experiments on their collected seed to determine the best methods for germination and seedling growth.

  • 09/07/2020
  • Seed Collection

In 1990 the Desert Botanical Garden began a conservation seedbank of this species, and has collected seeds almost annually since.

  • 09/07/2020
  • Propagation Research

In his 1992 study, Hughes also propagated 98 plants from seed (germination rates of 45%-75%) in a greenhouse setting as was able to produce 3 flowering individuals in two years.

  • 09/07/2020
  • Reproductive Research

During the 1930's, a claim was made that flowers are heterostylic, with 2 different style lengths (Johnston 1939). This suggests that the plant is an obligate outcrosser, and would thus require some sort of pollinator for successful seed production. Higgins (1971) discounted this, but Hughes confirmed it in a 1992 study. This could be a possible limiting factor to reproduction, especially if pollinators are scarce

Nature Serve Biotics
  • 05/02/2017

Endemic to a unique gypsum-rich geologic formation and known from 10 sites (all within a 10 km radius) in west Texas. Threatened by off-road vehicle use and residental/resort development. Less than 5000 plants are known.

Kathleen C. Rice
  • 01/01/2010

All known populations of this species are located on privately owned land. The greatest threat to this species is habitat alteration and destruction due to such things as mining, off-road vehicle use, road development and maintenance, and residential dev

Kathleen C. Rice
  • 01/01/2010

There are approximately 5000 individuals in 10 unprotected populations (located on privately owned land). All of these populations are located within a 100 square mile area very near Big Bend National Park, but not on park land (USFWS 1994).

Kathleen C. Rice
  • 01/01/2010

During the 1930's, a claim was made that flowers are heterostylic, with 2 different style lengths (Johnston 1939). This suggests that the plant is an obligate outcrosser, and would thus require some sort of pollinator for successful seed production. Higgins (1971) discounted this, but Hughes confirmed it in a 1992 study. This could be a possible limiting factor to reproduction, especially if pollinators are scarce. In his 1992 study, Hughes also propagated 98 plants from seed (germination rates of 45%-75%) in a greenhouse setting as was able to produce 3 flowering individuals in two years. In 1990 the Desert Botanical Garden began a conservation seedbank of this species, and has collected seeds almost annually since. This Garden has also performed germination experiments on their collected seed to determine the best methods for germination and seedling growth. (USFWS 1994).

Kathleen C. Rice
  • 01/01/2010

Cattle are grazed in the area, bentonite mining has occurred near the site, and several roads have been cut through the site by Terlingua Ranch Resort for the buyers of their 5-20 acre tracts of land for housing development. All of these activities are presumed to be detrimental to the species. No known management regimes have been put in place to benefit the species. (Poole 1987)

Kathleen C. Rice
  • 01/01/2010

Research: Population biology Pollination biology Genetic variability and fitness Reproductive biology and phenology Seed dispersal, biology and ecology Demographic structure of known populations Management: Use of conservation easements and private landowner education and cooperation Population stabilization Survey and monitor each population, then identify needed management actions

Kathleen C. Rice
  • 01/01/2010

The primary focus of the efforts of the Desert Botanical Garden has been to continue to build a seedbank of field-collected seeds, and to store it in 2 places. Collections are divided, one portion kept at DBG and a portion stored at National Seed Storage Lab in Ft. Collins, Colorado. Continued work in this area includes the need for development and maintenance of a genetically diverse seed bank.

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Photos
Nomenclature
Taxon Cryptantha crassipes
Authority I.M. Johnston
Family Boraginaceae
CPC Number 1118
ITIS 31799
USDA CRCR7
Common Names Terlingua Creek cat's-eye | Terlingua Creek catseye | Terlingua Creek cryptantha
Associated Scientific Names Cryptantha crassipes
Distribution Plants are limited to an area of slightly over 100 square miles in Brewster County in west Texas, with a gypsum-clay substrate.
State Rank
State State Rank
Texas S1
Habitat

The species is endemic to a geologic formation of creamy yellow limestone with exceptionally high gypsum levels, which is known as 'Fizzle Flat lentil'. This limestone forms very thin plates between which can be found many fossils (Moon 1953). The majority of the formation is almost completely plant-free and has a strange unearthly appearance, with a highly reflective surface (Moon 1953), from which the plants are able to absorb much additional radiation. Around the periphery of this unique formation can be found relatively high densities of Cryptantha, with a few individuals straying onto the limestone formation. Cryptantha crassipes grows in strange patterns on the gypsum-limestone formation'. Several other rare species occur in the same habitat, including Castilleja elongata and Lycium berberioides. (Poole 1987, USFWS 1994).Associated species, limited to the adjoining darker soil type derived from volcanic rock, include Berberis trifoliata, Dasyliron wheeleri, Amsonia longiflora, Krameria sp., Dyssodia sp., Leucophyllum candidum, Larrea tridentata,Bouteloua sp. and Condalia warnockii.

Ecological Relationships

Pollinators (most likely insects such as bees, butterflies or beetles) are low in frequency and number. The relationship between pollinators and this plant needs to be examined (Poole 1987).Seed dispersal is most likely carried out by water, insects, or small mammals. Nothing is know about the seed biology of this species in it's natural habitat. (Poole 1994)

Pollinators
Common Name Name in Text Association Type Source InteractionID
Bees
Small bees Suspected Pollinator Floral Link
Reintroduction
Lead Institution State Reintroduction Type Year of First Outplanting

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