Special Study and Experimental Facilities
The biology Field Plot is a site for experimentation with various plant species including oaks, pines and cacti. The experimental vineyard has as its main objective the development of disease resistant rootstocks for wine grapes. In addition, the vineyard is a test site for numerous established varieties of wine and eating grapes.
The Sul Ross campus greenhouses facilitate a native plant propagation program that has been in effect since 1979. Over 400 species of woody plants and several hundred herbaceous annual and perennial species have been or are being grown primarily to test their use as native plant ornamentals. Plants native to the Trans-Pecos region of Texas are adapted to an arid climate and are particularly useful in southwestern horticulture because the plants grow well under conditions of limited water. In addition, the true desert plants of Trans-Pecos Texas are widely useful in xeriscaping because they are also cold hardy. The campus demonstration garden showcases about 100 species of promising or already established native plant ornamentals.
A cactus garden was constructed in 1996 on the Sul Ross campus. The garden site included four 20 x 80 foot sections and four smaller plots located in front of the recently-renovated Lawrence Hall. Native cacti from the northern Chihuahuan Desert region (about 124 different kinds) are featured in the garden, as well as numerous other species of true desert plants. The educational objectives of the cactus garden are connected to those of the Museum of the Big Bend through plant exhibits and an informative brochure. The cactus garden is open to students at Sul Ross and all visitors to the campus.