McKinney Roughs Nature Park: Special Features

Plants and Wildlife


Host to an unusual diversity of plants and animals

McKinney Roughs is host to hundreds of different plants, mammals and birds. Here are some of the more interesting species to look for at McKinney Roughs.


Toothache tree Zanthoxylum clava-herculis
This tree has long spines on the trunk, often emerging from conical bases. It is also called Hercules' club or prickly ash. Native Americans chewed the leaves from this tree to numb toothaches, thus its name. WARNING: Never eat any plant's leaves or berries because many are toxic.

Bald cypress Taxodium distichum
This conifer tree grows to up to 110 feet tall, and is found in riparian (near river) areas. The trees can live up to 1,000 years.


Agarita Berberis trifoliolata
The berries of this shrub are used to make jams and jellies. The native plant grows to nearly four feet tall and can adapt to extremely dry conditions. Its leaves have sharp points on ends and the plant produces small fragrant yellow flowers that bloom from February to April.

com_mckr_diospyros_texana.jpg Texas persimmon Diospyros texana
The Texas persimmon produces an important source of food for wildlife. Its berries are eaten by birds, foxes, coyotes and raccoons. The shrub grows up to 26 feet tall, and has thin, peeling bark and egg-shaped leaves.


Antelope horn Asclepias asperula
This wildflower is a member of the poisonous milkweed family. The monarch butterfly's larval stage (caterpillars) feed on the milkweed and makes the caterpillars distasteful, even toxic to birds and other predators. The plant produces white flowers spring through fall.

Turk's cap Malvaviscus arboreus
The wildflower produces distinctive red, turk's cap–shaped flowers that bloom June through October. It can live in full sun, or full shade, and attracts humming birds, tropical orioles and butterflies.


Texas spiny lizard Sceloporus olivaceus
This large, extremely spiny lizard can grow seven to 11 inches long, and lives mostly in trees. A skillful climber, it is easily overlooked when at rest in a tree, but when approached it usually rushes up the trunk.

Prairie-lined racerunner Cnemidophorus sexlineatus viridis
The racerunner lizard has seven light stripes on a bright green head and body. It grows to 10 inches long. It is diurnal (active during the day) and is bold when foraging for its insect prey.


White-eyed vireo Vireo griseus
This elusive bird has a loud, distinctive song. Found in the oak woodlands during the summer, it is marked by yellow ”spectacles” found around its white eyes.

Scissor-tailed flycatcher Tyrannus forficatus
Another summer resident is the elegant scissor-tailed flycatcher that is often seen perched on fences and wires. It may also be seen fluttering over open fields with tail spread wide.


Gray fox Urocyon cinereoargenteus
This medium-sized fox with gray upperparts is common at McKinney Roughs, and is adept at climbing trees. It makes its den in crevices in rocks, in underground burrows, or in hollow logs. Foxes are active during the day, but especially at night, when they hunt for food.

Mountain lion Puma concolor
This predator is uncommon, but present at McKinney Roughs. The lion is rarely seen, but tracks and scat (animal droppings) have been found on several trails at McKinney Roughs including ”Deep Sandy.” This predator is extremely elusive and is most active at night.