Native Plants in the Rio Grande Valley Found in Mexican Cuisine and Remedios

Words by Fátima Garza

Edited by Abigail Vela

1. Flor de Pita

Green pointy leaves poke out behind a blue sky found in the Rio Grande Valley
yucca treclueana

Yucca, also known as Chocha or Flor de Pita can make a delicious meal when cooked “a la mexicana” with tomato, onion, and chili peppers or in a quesadilla. Yucca is the only host plant for the Yucca moth and they depend on each other to survive as the Yucca moth is its only pollinator. 


2. Mexican Oregano

Mexican Oregano is an herb that flavors many dishes like caldos, salsas, pozole, and menudo. It is also used in tea, paired with honey and lemon to help with gripa or colds. Mexican Oregano can be found in Starr County and surrounding areas, and can be a great addition to your pollinator garden.

3. Verdolaga

Verdolaga, also known as Purslane can make a bold guisado with carnitas or tasty eggs with verdolagas en salsa verde. It makes a good ground cover and is very popular with native sweat bees, longhorn bees, and other pollinators.

4. Nopales

Opuntia engelmannii var. Lindheimeri

Nopales or Prickly Pear pads can be eaten in many different ways, fresh with salt and lemon, in a pico de gallo, in salsa colorada or with egg. This cactus is also a preferred nesting spot for Bobwhites, and food for Javelinas, and Texas Tortoises.

5. Chile Piquin

Chile Piquin is a perfect example of “chiquito pero picoso” – small but spicy. This pepper can be used to make a  variety of salsas or eaten whole with your preferred meal. Birds love this pepper and are largely responsible for spreading it throughout the RGV. Add this shrub to your native garden and you will not be disappointed.

Recipe: Piquin Salsa ft. Mexican Oregano 

By: Mely Martínez


2 tablespoons Piquin pepper
¼ teaspoon cumin seeds
½ teaspoon Mexican oregano
4 black peppercorns
1/3 of a small white onion sliced
1 garlic clove sliced
1 tablespoon vegetable or olive oil
½ tablespoon of white or apple cider vinegar
6 tablespoons water
Salt to taste

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