Ibervillea sonorae

Note: It is normal for vines to die at the end of growing season.
Note: It is normal for vines to die at the end of growing season.

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The Ibervillea sonorae is indigenous to Sonora into Baja California, Mexico. Within Sonora, it is relatively common from Navojoa to Alamos. Preferring low elevations, this succulent grows in open habitats in the Sonoran Desert in sandy plains, canyon bottoms, north/south-facing canyon slopes and most commonly alongside washes.

The Ibervillea sonorae is a perennial desert succulent and a relative of the cucumber! It has a very large caudex that acts as a water reservoir. Typically, the caudex is visible within the shade provided by trees and shrubs. They have also been known to form symbiotic relationships with the giant barrel cactus Ferocactus diguetii, Stenocereus gummosus and Pachycereus pringlei. The succulent's vines grow under and through these cacti for shade, support and protection. At full maturity, the caudex reaches an approximate diameter of 2' - 3'. The caudex is either partially visible above ground level or subterranean. It is the commonly occurring irregular shape of this plant's caudex that give it the distinct appearance of a real stone.

The Ibervillea sonorae has a geophytic (a perennial plant that propagates by means of buds below the soil surface), climbing vine. The vine is typically both annual and deciduous. Yellow flowers bloom during the summer months. Small, bright orange-red melons grow during the autumn months. As the fruit ripens, they take on their trademark orange-red color. This succulent is dioecious, they require a male and female plant to produce usable seed. Male flowers are a little over a 1/2 inch long and are yellow in color. Female flowers are pistillate (having pistils, but no stamens). They look like tiny zucchinis.

Stems are slender, flexible and liana-like. At full maturity, they reach an approximate length of 10'+. Shoots are smooth, glabrous (free from hair or down; smooth), round, green above and gray-brownish with spots and/or streaks. When autumn arrives, the plant's shoots die back. Sprouts return in early spring. Tendrils are branched. Leaves are a vibrant bright green to glaucous green. Leaves are 2" - 4" wide, glabrous (free from hair or down; smooth), palmately divided (a leaf that is divided into 3 or more distinct lobes. Imagine the palm of your hand with outstretched fingers), orbicular (having the shape of a sphere or ball; "a spherical object") to ovate (with the broadest extremity near the base) in outline. Leaves can be irregularly lobulate (small lobes), even when examining the exact same specimen. This succulent has 3 primary lobes with 7 - 9 secondary lobes.


Good choice for a house plant.

Good choice for individuals who do not want to put in a lot of work taking care of their plants.

Thrives on neglect.


Ibervillea guarequi MacDougal
Ibervillea insularis (Brandegee) Wiggins
Ibervillea sonorae var. brevicaulis (I.M.Johnst.)
Ibervillea sonorae var. peninsularis (I.M.Johnst.) Wiggins
Ibervillea sonorae var. peninsularis (I.M.Johnst.) Wiggins

Plant Details
USDA Zone Information: 
Flower : 
Yellow flowers (summertime) - Orange-red, small melons (autumn)
Ideal Light Conditions: 
Keep the caudex in the shade. The vine prefers light shade to full sun.
Ideal Water Conditions: 
Very drought tolerant - Water regularly, but relatively infrequently only during growing season (spring - autumn).
Speed of Growth: 
Mature Width: 
2' - 3'
Latin Name: 
Ibervillea sonorae
Common Name: 
Big Root, Coyote Melon, Cowpie Plant

Corporate Clients (The King hangs hard)


RoboCop (1987)
RoboCop 2 (1990)
Hot Pursuit (2015)


USA Network's Queen of the South (2019)

Botanical Gardens:

New York Botanical Gardens
Oklahoma City Zoo/Botanical Gardens
Mercer Arboretum in Houston, Texas
Meijer Gardens in Grand Rapids, Michigan


Houston, TX Zoo
San Antonio, TX Zoo

Other Clientele:

Houston, TX Rodeo

The Cactus King's cacti and succulents have gone international! If you ever find yourself in China with a little spare time, head to the Chimelong Ocean Kingdom. It is the largest Aquarium in the world (no big deal, pun definitely intended).

The Cactus King's plants are also featured in the Chimelong Ocean Kingdom's partner parks. These include their water park, amusement park, crocodile park and botanical gardens.

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Addresses & Contact Information

Physical Address (IN-PERSON VISITS):
7900 I-45N
Houston TX, 77037

We're located directly next to the Tajj Inn.
Mailing Address (WEB ORDER PAYMENTS):

Lyn Rathburn
PO Box 16099
Houston, TX 77222

Please make checks/money orders out to "Lyn Rathburn."
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