Invalid Unit Specified
G286 Agave lechuguilla - Euphorbia antisyphilitica - Opuntia engelmannii Chihuahuan Desert Succulent Scrub Group

The U.S. National
Vegetation Classification
Type Concept Sentence: This Chihuahuan Desert scrub group occurs on rocky sites and has a relatively high cover and rich flora of succulents such as Agave lechuguilla, Euphorbia antisyphilitica, Echinocereus spp., Escobaria spp., Fouquieria splendens, Ferocactus spp., Opuntia engelmannii, Cylindropuntia imbricata, Grusonia schottii, Cylindropuntia spinosior, or Yucca torreyi with low cover of perennial grasses.
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Common (Translated Scientific) Name: Lechuguilla - Candelilla - Cactus-apple Chihuahuan Desert Succulent Scrub Group
Colloquial Name: Chihuahuan Desert Succulent Scrub
Hierarchy Level: Group
Type Concept: This rocky site Chihuahuan Desert scrub group is characterized by the relatively high cover and rich flora of succulents such as Agave lechuguilla, Euphorbia antisyphilitica, Echinocereus spp., Escobaria spp., Fouquieria splendens, Ferocactus spp., Opuntia engelmannii, Cylindropuntia imbricata, Grusonia schottii, Cylindropuntia spinosior, Yucca torreyi, and many others. Perennial grass cover is generally low. The abundance of succulents is diagnostic of this desert scrub group, but desert shrubs and subshrubs are usually present but not codominant, except for the near ubiquitous desert shrubs Larrea tridentata and Parthenium incanum. It is found in the Chihuahuan Desert on alluvial fans and fan piedmonts (bajadas), colluvial foothill slopes and ridges, and mesas. Sites are hot and dry, typically with southerly aspects. Gravel and rock are often abundant on the ground surface and the highest cover often occurs on limestones. Stands in rolling topography may form a mosaic with more mesic desert scrub or desert grassland groups. Agave lechuguilla is more abundant in stands in the southern part of the range. This group does not include desert grasslands or shrub-steppe with a significant cacti component, such as yucca or cholla grassland with a high grass cover.
Diagnostic Characteristics: This generally sparse desert scrub group has relatively high cover and a rich flora of succulent species such as Agave lechuguilla, Euphorbia antisyphilitica, Fouquieria splendens, Ferocactus spp., Opuntia engelmannii, Cylindropuntia imbricata, Grusonia schottii, Cylindropuntia spinosior, and Yucca torreyi, and low cover of non-succulent desert scrub such as Acacia constricta or Mimosa aculeaticarpa var. biuncifera and perennial grasses. However, the near ubiquitous desert shrubs Larrea tridentata and Parthenium incanum may codominate with succulents. There is typically high cover of surface rock and gravel, and vegetation cover is most often highest on limestones.
Rationale for Nominal Species or Physiognomic Features: Agave lechuguilla and Euphorbia antisyphilitica are common characteristic species of the Chihuahuan Desert and diagnostic species of this group. Cacti species such as Opuntia engelmannii, Cylindropuntia imbricata, Grusonia schottii, Cylindropuntia spinosior, and succulent shrub Yucca torreyi are often dominant species in this group, although they may be common in other desert scrub types.
Classification Comments: Although 242 plots were sampled by Natural Heritage New Mexico (NHNM) and classified to three NVC associations and 29 provisional types, this information was not available for review to be included in the concept of this group. Review of the NHNM information is needed to fully characterize it and separate it from matrix desert scrub types with succulents present or treat as an alliance(s) of desert scrub group(s).
Similar NVC Types:
Physiognomy and Structure: This extremely xeromorphic evergreen succulent shrubland group is dominated by a sparse to moderately dense layer of succulent species especially cacti, yucca, and agave. Cover of woody shrubs such as Larrea tridentata is generally very low, and there is typically high cover of surface rock and gravel.
Floristics: This desert scrub vegetation is generally sparse and characterized by the relatively high cover and rich flora of succulents such as Agave lechuguilla, Echinocereus spp., Escobaria spp., Euphorbia antisyphilitica, Fouquieria splendens, Ferocactus spp., Opuntia engelmannii, Cylindropuntia imbricata (= Opuntia imbricata), Grusonia schottii (= Opuntia schottii), Cylindropuntia spinosior (= Opuntia spinosior), Yucca torreyi, and many others. Perennial grass cover is generally low. The abundance of succulents is diagnostic of this desert scrub group, but desert shrubs are usually present. The near ubiquitous desert shrub Larrea tridentata and Parthenium incanum may codominate with succulents. Other non-succulent shrubs include Acacia constricta, Acacia neovernicosa, Parthenium incanum, Petrophytum caespitosum, and Prosopis glandulosa. Stands in rolling topography may form a mosaic with more mesic desert scrub or desert grassland groups. Agave lechuguilla is more abundant in stands in the southern part of the range. This group does not include desert grasslands or shrub-steppe with a significant cacti component, such as yucca or cholla grassland with a high grass cover.
Dynamics: No Data Available
Environmental Description: This desert scrub group is found in the Chihuahuan Desert on alluvial fans and fan piedmonts (bajadas), colluvial foothill slopes and ridges, and mesas. Sites are hot and dry, typically with southerly aspects. Gravel and rock are often abundant on the ground surface and the highest cover often occurs on limestones.
Geographic Range: This Chihuahuan Desert desert scrub group occurs on alluvial fans and fan piedmonts (bajadas), colluvial foothill slopes and ridges and mesas. It extends from Devils River in Texas, west into southeastern Arizona and south into northern Mexico.
Nations: MX, US
States/Provinces: AZ, MXCH, NM, TX
US Forest Service Ecoregions (2007)
Domain Name:
Division Name:
Province Name: Southwest Plateau and Plains Dry Steppe and Shrub Province
Province Code: 315    Occurrence Status: Confident or certain
Section Name: White Mountains-San Francisco Peaks-Mogollon Rim Section
Section Code: M313A     Occurrence Status: Confident or certain
Omernik Ecoregions: 22:P, 22g:P, 22m:P, 23:P, 23a:P, 23b:P, 23e:P, 23f:P, 24:P, 24a:P, 24b:P, 24c:P, 24d:P, 24e:P, 24f:P, 25:P, 25i:P, 26:P, 26c:P, 26h:P, 26o:P, 26q:P, 30:P, 30d:P, 31:P, 31b:P, 79:P, 79a:P, 79b:P, 79e:P, 81:P, 81k:P, 81l:P
Plot Analysis Summary:
Confidence Level: Moderate
Confidence Level Comments:
Grank: GNR
Greasons:
Concept Lineage:
Predecessors:
Obsolete Names:
Obsolete Parents:
Synonomy: = Chihuahuan Desertscrub, Succulent Series - 153.25 (Brown et al. 1979)
Concept Author(s): D.E. Brown, C.H. Lowe, and C.P. Pase (1979)
Author of Description: K.A. Schulz and E. Muldavin
Acknowledgements: E. Muldavin
Version Date: 05Nov2015
References:
  • Brown, D. E., C. H. Lowe, and C. P. Pase. 1979. A digitized classification system for the biotic communities of North America with community (series) and association examples for the Southwest. Journal of the Arizona-Nevada Academy of Science 14:1-16.
  • Brown, D. E., editor. 1982a. Biotic communities of the American Southwest-United States and Mexico. Desert Plants Special Issue 4(1-4):1-342.
  • Faber-Langendoen, D., J. Drake, S. Gawler, M. Hall, C. Josse, G. Kittel, S. Menard, C. Nordman, M. Pyne, M. Reid, L. Sneddon, K. Schulz, J. Teague, M. Russo, K. Snow, and P. Comer, editors. 2010-2019a. Divisions, Macrogroups and Groups for the Revised U.S. National Vegetation Classification. NatureServe, Arlington, VA. plus appendices. [in preparation]
  • MacMahon, J. A. 1988. Warm deserts. Pages 232-264 in: M. G. Barbour and W. D. Billings, editors. North American terrestrial vegetation. Cambridge University Press, New York.
  • Muldavin E., G. Bell, et al. 2002a. Draft ecoregional conservation assessment of the Chihuahuan Desert. Pronatura Noreste. 87 pp.
  • Muldavin, E. H., G. Harper, P. Neville, and S. Wood. 2009. A vegetation classification of the Sierra del Carmen, U.S.A. and Mexico. Proceeding of the Fifth Annual Chihuahuan Desert Symposium. Chihuahuan Desert Research Institute, Alpine, TX.
  • Muldavin, E., P. Neville, P. Arbetan, Y. Chauvin, A. Browder, and T. Neville. 2003a. A vegetation map of Carlsbad Caverns National Park, New Mexico. Final report submitted in partial fulfillment of Cooperative Agreement No. Ca-7170-99-004. New Mexico Natural Heritage Program at the University of New Mexico, Albuquerque. 102 pp.
  • Muldavin, E., Y. Chauvin, and G. Harper. 2000b. The vegetation of White Sands Missile Range, New Mexico: Volume I. Handbook of vegetation communities. Final report to Environmental Directorate, White Sands Missile Range. New Mexico Natural Heritage Program, University of New Mexico, Albuquerque. 195 pp. plus appendices
  • NHNM [Natural Heritage New Mexico]. No date. Unpublished data on file. Natural Heritage New Mexico, University of New Mexico, Albuquerque.
  • NRCS [Natural Resources Conservation Service]. 2006a. Field Office Technical Guide: Section II Soil and Site Information. New Mexico major land resource and subresource areas. USDA, Natural Resources Conservation Service. [http://www.nm.nrcs.usda.gov/technical/fotg/section-2/ESD.html]
  • Shiflet, T. N., editor. 1994. Rangeland cover types of the United States. Society for Range Management. Denver, CO. 152 pp.