Acourtia nana

Dwarf Desert Holly - Acourtia nana
East of Hillsboro
New Mexico, USA

Dwarf Desert Holly, Acourtia nana, is found in the foothills which border the Black Range but is nondescript and often easy to miss.  When I first saw this species, I was struck by the large number of miniature hollies that covered the ground - clearly there was no “mature” holly around.  I have since learned that it is not a holly, it simply has the stereotypical holly leaves.

Other common names for this species include Desert Holly and Dwarf Desertpeony.  It was first described by Asa Gray, as Perezia nana, in 1849.  It has a limited range: being restricted to Arizona, New Mexico, and Texas in the United States; and Chihuahua, Coahuila, Nuevo León, San Luis Potosí, Sonora, and Zacatecas in Mexico.

I have yet to see this species in bloom and the photographs here are the first ones I have taken of it after it has gone to seed.  The photos were taken east of Hillsboro.

The specimen shown below is an isotype, gathered in Mexico by Gregg in 1849.  It is maintained by the Missouri Botanical Garden.  Josiah Gregg collected this specimen in northwestern Mexico when he was part of a botanical expedition.  Among other things, Gregg (1804 - 1850) was a noted plant collector and cactologist and is recognized in the names of several plant species.  He died the year after he collected this specimen when he fell from a horse.


© Robert Barnes 2018-2023