Terlingua Creek Cat's Eye

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Terlingua Creek Cat's Eye

Cryptantha crassipes

ListedSeptember 30, 1991
FamilyBoraginaceae (Borage)
DescriptionHairy, whitish perennial with narrow leaves and a terminal cluster of white and yellow flowers.
HabitatArid savanna over gypsiferous, chalky shale.
ThreatsResidential development, off-road vehicles.


Terlingua Creek cat's eye is a perennial of the borage family that grows to a height of 24 in (61 cm). It has an overall silvery appearance with a terminal cluster of white and yellow flowers. Slender, erect, hairy stems arise from a mound of leaves at the base. The narrow leaves are whitish and hairy. The flowers have yellow knobs rising above laid-back petals. Fruits are egg-shaped, hairy nutlets.Flowering occurs from late March to early June; fruiting continues through July.


This species is found only on rounded hills and gentle slopes over gypsiferous, chalky shale in the Trans-Pecos scrub savannah in Brewster County, Texas. It grows in full sun in the arid climate at elevations between 3,150 and 3,320 ft (960 and 1,011 m).

Associated vegetation includes Havard's buckwheat, perennial spurge, Schott acacia, Mormon tea, and creosote.


Terlingua Creek cat's eye was first discovered in the late 1930s in Brewster County and described as a new species in 1939. Since then it has been collected only infrequently and no other locations have been found.

Today only six populations of Terlingua Creek cat's eye are known, all on private land in Brewster County, near Big Bend National Park in southwest Texas. According to a 1987 status survey, these populations range in size from less than a hundred to a few thousand plants. The total species population was about 3,750. All populations appeared to be healthy, but only mature plants were observed; no juvenile or seedling plants were in evidence.


Because Terlingua Creek cat's eye occurs only on private land, none of the sites are protected. Small tracts of land in Brewster County, including some with populations of Terlingua Creek cat's eye, have been sold by a resort, and development of these tracts may eliminate some populations. It is likely that plants have already been destroyed by a network of roads constructed by the resort owners. The U. S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) has had difficulty contacting the many owners of Terlingua Creek cat's eye sites because most of the small tracts have been sold to out-of-state buyers.

In addition to development, the species is threatened by uncontrolled off-road vehicle use. Several of the hills near the closest town are rutted, and a few sites show evidence of vehicle tracks.

Conservation and Recovery

The FWS published a recovery plan for the Ter-lingua Creek cat's eye in 1994. All 10 of the known critical habitats are on private land and are threatened by residential development, trampling by off-road vehicles, and other activities. This habitat should be protected by acquiring the land and designating ecological reserves, or by negotiating conservation easements with the landowners. The populations of the Terlingua Creek cat's eye should be monitored, additional ones searched for, and research undertaken into its biology, habitat needs, and beneficial management practices.


Regional Office of Endangered Species
U. S. Fish and Wildlife Service
P.O. Box 1306
Albuquerque, New Mexico 87103-1306
Telephone: (505) 248-6911
Fax: (505) 248-6915

U. S. Fish and Wildlife Service
Corpus Christi Ecological Services Field Office
c/o Texas A & M University at Corpus Christi
6300 Ocean Drive, Campus Box 338
Corpus Christi, Texas 78412-5599
Telephone: (361) 994-9005
Fax: (361) 888-3189


Poole, J. M. 1987. "Status Report on Cryptantha crassipes." U. S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Albuquerque.

U. S. Fish and Wildlife Service. 1994. Terlingua Creek Cat's-eye (Cryptantha crassipes ) Recovery Plan. U. S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Austin, Texas.