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Image by Josh Hild

Our Natural Environment

Placitas Trails HOA has members that are advocates for desert preservation...most importantly, native plants local to the Placitas area.  Information includes plant images with strengths and weaknesses, how to prune and cut plants, how to decrease erosion, plus general recommendations for xeriscaping.

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The 2024 Placitas Garden Tour

Get inspiration for High Desert Gardening!

The 2024 Placitas Garden Tour is scheduled for Sunday, September 8, 2024, from 9 a.m.- 4 p.m. 

Visit for full details and last year's photos. 

One Seed Juniper

Common Name - One Seed Juniper
Latin Name - Juniperus Monosperma
Description - Evergreen shrub that can grow to 23 ft tall. Produces small edible berries. The bushes are either male or female, and can be differentiated during pollination as the male specimens appear to turn rust red. The pollen is known to be highly allergenic. 
Benefit - Provides food for birds and mammels via seeds. Birds use it for nesting and for many animals, it provides shelter. Retains soil from erosion and stabilizes soil on hillsides . Very low water use, long lived plant. Can be used as a privacy screen.

One Seed Juniper

Desert Willow

Common Name – Desert Willow
Latin Name - Chilopsis Linearis
Description - From a small sized shrub to a medium sized tree, the Desert Willow can be found all over Placias, growing next to the pavement or being used as a specimen tree. Its deciduous leaves are slender green leaves and the tree presents showy purple-white flowers throughout the growing season. 
Benefit - Can provide shade if grown to a larger size. Helps retain soil on slopes. Also attracts hummingbirds and butterflies.  Low-Medium water requirement for large specimens. 

Four Winged Salt Bush

Common Name – Four Winged Salt Bush
Latin Name - Atriplex Canescens
Description - Desert shrub typically sized from 2 to 4 feet, with silver-green foliage. Most easily identified by 'seeds' that have "four wings" at 90 degree angles. 
Benefit – Stabilizes soil and prevents erosion. Provides cover and living space for small mammals, and quail.


Apache Plume

Common Name – Apache Plume
Latin Name - Fallugia Paradoxa
Description - Semi evergreen shrub that presents with white flowers in the warmer months. The "fruit" of the plant is a very showy silver-purple puff that is very soft to the touch. Can grow to over 6ft tall.
Benefit - Erosion control, privacy hedge, attracts birds, butterflies and bees. Ultra low water requirement when established. 

Narrow Leaf Yucca

Common Name - Narrow Leaf Yucca
Latin Name - Yucca Baileyi Var. Intermedia
Description - Thin leafed yucca with sharp ends. These are found all over placitas, and are typically grouped in small families. In the spring the plant will produce a 1 to 3 foot stalk presented with white flowers. Unlike agave, the production of the flower stalk does not indicate the end of the plants life. 
Benefit - Prevents soil erosion, and establishes a southwestern landscape. Provides cover for lizards and other animals. 


Mormon Tea

Common Name - Mormon Tea
Latin Name - Ephedra Viridis
Description - Small shrub with yellow green branches. Small yellow flowers.
Benefit - Helps prevent soil erosion. Provides cover for small desert dwellers. No water requirement once established. Known to have been used for medicinal purposes.

Alkali Sacaton

Common Name - Alkali Sacaton
Latin Name - Sporobolus Airoides
Description - Native bunching grass found throughout New Mexico. Brown throughout the year until monsoon. 
Benefit - Prevents soil erosion, provides grazing for animals



Common Name - Chamisa
Latin Name - Ericameria Nauseosa 
Description - Also called Rubber Rabbit Bush, the Chamisa can be found growing just about everywhere in New Mexico. The stems are white grayish and the plant can grow as high as 10 feet in the right conditions, but is typically found around 2 to 4 foot in height and diameter. The plant blooms in fall with showy bright yellow flowers, that deliver a delightfully pungent smell.
Benefit - Protects against erosion. Provides cover for small animals and foraging opportunities for rabbits. Supplemental water not required once established. 

Tree Cholla

Common Name - Tree Cholla
Latin Name - Cylindropuntia Imbricata
Description - The Tree Cholla is a staple across the desert areas of New Mexico. It is a form of cactus that is easily recognizable by its long narrow cylindrical stems covered in 1" needles. The stems are green in the summer, but can turn purple in winter time. True to its name, specimens can reach heights of over 15 feet tall. In the spring / summer time frame, it will produce pink or magenta colored flowers, and can be quite showy. 
Benefit - Provides shelter for animals and nesting opportunities for birds. Helps protect against erosion. Can be used in landscape for a native desert look, also can be used for privacy if strategically placed and provided with ample water. Ultra low water requirements once established


New Mexico Privet 

Common Name - New Mexico Privet 
Latin Name - Forestiera neomexicana
Description - Also referred as Palo Blanco or Desert Olive. This plant is native to New Mexico, and can be found throughout the desert southwestern region. It is deciduous losing its leaves in the fall, after turning a golden yellow. The stems are white-green and the plant can reach heights of 18' tall. Plants are either male or female, with the female varieties producing small purple berries in the summer. 

Benefit - Provides shelter for animals, and the female variety of the plants provide food for birds. The plant can be used as an ornamental show piece by trimming and forming into a multi stemmed small tree or can be used for privacy hedges in mass plantings.  Ultra-low water use, once established.

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