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Desert Diary
Plants/Snapdragon Vine


People who look only for flowers with flash and dash often miss some of the more beautiful desert blooms. Close scrutiny has its rewards, as delicate so often wins out over flamboyant. The Snapdragon Vine is a case in point. One of the relatively few climbing vines in the desert, its small leaves and flowers draped over shrubs or even cascading down limestone ledges easily escape notice. Yet its almost face-like purple to reddish blooms fascinate the most jaded plant-lover who takes the time to see.

You don't even have to wander through the desert to enjoy this vine--it does quite well in gardens, preferably with a low fence or rocks to sprawl across. Best of all, like most plants successful in arid climates, it does its thing with minimal water. Seeds can be obtained from sources on the internet, and native plant sales often have a few on hand. Sad but true, you'll sometimes find this listed as a weed—a real demonstration that a weed is merely a plant growing where you don't want it.
pen and ink


Contributor: Arthur H. Harris, Laboratory for Environmental Biology, Centennial Museum, University of Texas at El Paso.

Desert Diary is a joint production of the Centennial Museum and KTEP National Public Radio at the University of Texas at El Paso.

vine and flowers

Snapdragon Vine spreading across a native-plant garden; inset, closeup of the flower. Chihuahuan Desert Gardens. Photographs by A.H. Harris.



West, S. 2000. Northern Chihuahuan Desert wildflowers. Falcon, Helena, MT. 221 pp.

Web Resources

Michael L. Charters' pages. Good photographs.