8 Native Plants in New Mexico

Monarch butterfly on a swamp milkweed wildflower
iStock.com/herreid

Written by Jeremiah Wright

Published: December 30, 2022

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The Land of Enchantment is located in the southwestern part of the United States and is one of the Mountain States. New Mexico is the fifth state in the United States in terms of size and, with more than 2.1 million residents, is the 36th most populous.

In terms of flora and fauna diversity, it must be noted that the state consists of highly varied geographical and climate elements. One can find deserts and forested mountains, thus making the Land of Enchantment a haven for flora and fauna enjoyers.

Overview of Native Plants in New Mexico

The northern and eastern regions of New Mexico feature a cold alpine climate. In contrast, the western and southern regions have warm and arid climates. As a result, the state has six vegetation zones – you can even find alpine tundra there!

Without any further ado, here are some plants native to New Mexico!

What Is a Native Plant?

A native plant is a plant that knows the state it’s living in better than anything or anyone else. Native, or indigenous plants, are specimens that have been living and prospering naturally in a certain area/region for thousands of years and, through constant evolution and adaptation, became a part of the region’s ecosystem.

9 Native Plants in New Mexico

1. Artichoke Agave

Parry's Agave, Abstract, Agave Plant, Artichoke, Asparagaceae

Artichoke agave is commonly used for landscaping in desert areas characterized by heat and reduced humidity levels.

Artichoke Agave
Scientific nameAgave parryi
Type of plantPerennial
DistributionArizona, New Mexico, northern Mexico

Known as mescal agave or Parry’s agave, the artichoke agave is native to only a few states – Mexico, New Mexico, and Arizona. It is part of the Asparagaceae family, and the main species, Agave parryi, has three variations.

The plant is commonly used for landscaping in desert areas characterized by heat and reduced humidity levels. This is because the artichoke agave is low maintenance, first of all, and also doesn’t need that much water.

This species is evergreen and can be easily grown by any plant enthusiast. However, keep in mind that it requires full sun exposure to develop completely.

2. Purple Poppy Mallow

Mallow, Poppy - Plant, Purple, Alternative Medicine, American Bison

The purple poppy mallow is part of the mallow family.

Purple Poppy Mallow
Scientific nameCallirhoe involucrata
Type of plantEvergreen (in mild climate)
DistributionUnited States, northern Mexico

The purple poppy mallow is part of the mallow family, known for species such as durian, cotton, and cacao, among many others. The plant can be easily identified by its purple-pinkish flowers that look like little teacups. It is found throughout the United States and in the northern regions of Mexico.

Callirhoe involucrata usually grows up to 12 inches (about 31 cm) tall. Its flowers are relatively large for a small plant, specifically 2.5 inches (6.3 cm) across. The purple poppy mallow is a daytime bloomer – it blooms in the morning, and by nightfall, it closes its petals.

3. Texas Hummingbird Mint

Agastache cana

The Texas

hummingbird

mint is also known as the double bubble mint and mosquito plant.

Texas Hummingbird Mint
Scientific nameAgastache cana
Type of plantPerennial
DistributionNew Mexico, western Texas

The Texas hummingbird mint is also known as the double bubble mint and mosquito plant. It is part of the Agastache genus and the Lamiaceae family, known as the sage, deadnettle, and mint family. Agastache cana is native to western Texas and New Mexico and grows only in mountainous areas – at over 6,000 feet high.

On average, the plant usually grows up to 3 feet (90 cm) and is also pretty wide, reaching about 2 feet (60 cm). It is essentially an erect shrub characterized by profuse branching. The dark pink flowers grow in whorls and feature compact spikes.

4. Slender Amaranth

Slender Amaranth

The slender amaranth is known worldwide as a vegetable or boiled green.

Slender Amaranth
Scientific nameAmaranthus viridis
Type of plantAnnual
DistributionCentral and South America, tropical regions worldwide, North America, Europe, Asia, Australia

Amaranthus viridis is believed to have originated somewhere in Asia. Still, it is now considered a cosmopolitan plant, native mainly to Central and South America (but found throughout the world). In Africa, it is regarded as a common weed.

It is known as green or slender amaranth, on one side due to its vivid green color and on the other because it is an upright plant. The slender amaranth usually grows to 23.6-31.4 inches (60-80 cm). Its flowers are smaller than its leaves and present a total of three stamens.

The slender amaranth is known worldwide as a vegetable or boiled green – it can be part of a healthy diet!

5. Pacific Anemone

Anemone Flower, Windflower, Blossom, Close-up, Color Image

The Pacific anemone is often called cutleaf or globe anemone.

Pacific Anemone
Scientific nameAnemone multifida
Type of plantPerennial
DistributionNorth America, some parts of South America

The Pacific anemone is often called cutleaf or globe anemone. It is native to northern North America and can be found all the way from Alaska to New York, as well as in New Mexico and Arizona. The plant is part of the Anemone genus, whose plants are sometimes called windflowers.

Anemone multifida has four varieties (multifida, saxicola, stylosa, tetonensis) that are slightly different. The main plant stem, known as caudex, usually grows up to 3.9-27.5 inches (10-70 cm) tall – again, the difference in the minimum and the maximum size is due to variety variation.

The plant can be recognized by its inflorescence – it features multiple flowers with sepals instead of petals. These usually come in white but can virtually have any color in the spectrum.

6. Indian Hemp

Apocynum-cannibinum

Indian hemp usually grows up to 3.2 feet tall.

Indian Hemp
Scientific nameApocynum cannabinum
Type of plantPerennial
DistributionNorth America, southern Canada, throughout the United States

Apocynum cannabinum is usually known by one of the following common names – rheumatism root, wild cotton, prairie dogbane, amy rood, and Indian hemp, to name a few. It is known for being poisonous to humans, horses, and our favorite pets; cats and dogs (the term Apocynum translates to poisonous to dogs). Every part of the plant is toxic – ingestion can lead to cardiac arrest!

Indian hemp usually grows up to 3.2 feet (1 m) tall. It is usually found in open wooded areas, hillsides, and ditches, as it prefers sandy and gravelly soil. It can be found throughout the entire United States and in the southern parts of Canada.

7. Golden Columbine

Beauty, Blossom, Close-up, Color Image, Colors

The golden columbine can be easily distinguished by its bright yellow and structurally complex flowers.

Golden Columbine
Scientific nameAquilegia crysantha
Type of plantPerennial
DistributionSouthwestern United States

The golden columbine is part of the Aquilegia genus, which contains plants that grow mainly in woodlands and meadows at high altitudes. The main characteristic of the genus is the spurred aspect of the flowers’ petals.

The golden columbine features ferny leaves equipped with three leaflets, each having, in turn, a total of three lobes. These grow from the base of the plant and from its flowering stems.

It can be easily distinguished by its bright yellow and structurally complex flowers. They have five yellow petals surrounded by five yellow sepals that are much more pointed toward the outside than the petals. The sepals also feature long spurs that twist back toward the plant’s stem (they are located in-between sepals).

8. Swamp Milkweed

swamp milkweed

The swamp milkweed is part of the

Apocynaceae

family that includes shrubs, stem succulents, trees, and vines.

Swamp Milkweed
Scientific nameAsclepias incarnata
Type of plantPerennial
DistributionNorth America

The swamp milkweed can also be called white Indian hemp, rose milkflower, rose milkweed, and swamp silkweed. It is part of the Apocynaceae family (often called the dogbane family) that includes shrubs, stem succulents, trees, and vines.

Asclepias incarnata is native to North America and grows in damp and wet soils. Thanks to its pleasant appearance, it has found its way to many gardens – besides appearance, its flowers are rich in nectar, thus drawing in pollinators like butterflies.

The plant usually grows up to 39-59 inches (100-150 cm) tall and is characterized by lance-shaped leaves about 0.5-1.5 inches (1-4 cm) wide. The flower heads consist of umbellate racemes equipped with small pink (sometimes mauve or outright white) flowers.

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About the Author

I hold seven years of professional experience in the content world, focusing on nature, and wildlife. Asides from writing, I enjoy surfing the internet and listening to music.

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