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Thorny forest: what is it, characteristics, flora and fauna

At AgroCorrn we want to show you another of the most curious biomes of our beloved planet. The idea of ​​this article arises from the need to better understand the environment that surrounds us and respect the biomes of the forests, full of ecosystems so rich in biodiversity. Therefore, below, we explain in detail everything we can know about thorn forests, so that you learn more about this type of forest.

To make it easy for you to recognize it if you have the opportunity to walk through one or to study them better, keep reading this article about what the thorn forest is, its characteristics, flora and fauna .

What is a thorn forest

A type of plant mass, generally dense, is known as thorny forest, which is mainly made up of species of plants with thorns , typical of semi-arid climates .

Normally, the thorn forest is formed by low shrubs and develops in places with a dry climate, usually corresponding to tropical deciduous forests or somewhat more humid with xerophilous scrub ecosystems . In the same way, it is usually located on slopes, hills and other types of shallow soils. Likewise, it should be noted that there are also thorn forests that exceed 2,200 meters in height.

It is also important to know that one of the biggest problems of thorn forests is their way of creating large, non-delimited plant communities that gradually form other types of formations and that make it difficult to define them within an area. This means that many times it is possible to make mistakes when recognizing it as such.

The thorn forest is characteristic of countries such as Madagascar and Mexico , where it occupies a large area of ​​land. It is found in areas such as the Northwest Coastal Plain up to the southern part of Sinaloa, the Balsas Depression and the Isthmus of Tehuantepec and in much of the Gulf of Mexico. In fact, there is data that assures that it covers 5% of the total surface of the country.

Learn more Types of forests in this other AgroCorrn article.

Characteristics of thorn forests

These are the main characteristics of thorn forests , which make them unique biomes:

  • Be low forests with purely shrub or scrub vegetation. Learn more about the Thickets: what they are, types and fauna with this other post .
  • They are forests that, as their name suggests, are made up mostly of thorny trees .
  • These forests need a dry or semi-dry climate for their development.
  • The annual temperature of this type of forest ranges between 12ºC and 26ºC.
  • These forests are not limited to the lowlands, it also has a plateau of about 2,000 m high.
  • It has a supply of groundwater that is responsible for supplying the roots of the trees.
  • The rainy season usually occurs between the months of June and September.

Thorn forest flora

Next, we will talk about the most characteristic plant species of the thorn forest. Most of them are shrubs and plants with small and strong leaves capable of living in extreme climates where water is scarce and there is a significant load of sunlight. These are some of the species of the thorny forest flora :


These deciduous trees reach a maximum height of 30 feet, have narrow compound leaves and their branches have thorns. The strength and resistance of these plants to drought makes them one of the most common species in thorn forests. Its pod-shaped fruit is also called mesquite.

Short black

Another of the plants of the thorny forests is known as chaparro prieto or Acacia rigidula . This reaches a maximum height of 3 meters in height and has numerous thorns grouped in pairs that occur both on the trunk and on the branches. In addition, they are very important since their yellow flowers attract bees. These types of plants are known as honeybees, since they provide food not only for bees, but also for other important insects for the ecosystem.


This species is also capable of living in really inhospitable areas. They are characterized by their spherical shape, which gives them greater filtration and water retention. As with many types of cacti, biznagas also have large, aromatic flowers. However, they need the shelter of another nurse plant to ensure their survival.

White stick

This tree that reaches a height of 6 meters, has a characteristic gray bark. Like the rest, it also has a trunk covered with large thorns. The leaves are pale green and bell-shaped flowers appear in reddish clusters.

Thorn forest fauna

Among the most characteristic thorny forest animals we find the coyote. This lone hunter is found, along with raptors , at the top of the food chain of this ecosystem. But beware, it not only feeds on small rodents, it also eats vegetables and their fruits. As with the coyote , we highlight the famous roadrunner among the types of birds that we will find in this bioama . These feed mainly on reptiles, insects and small mammals.

We also want to make a special mention of the opossum or opossum , the only marsupial that exists in Mexico and has a short and hard coat that protects it from high temperatures.

Finally, we will also find other common animals of the thorny forests such as:

Maria Anderson

Hello, I am a blogger specialized in environmental, health and scientific dissemination issues in general. The best way to define myself as a blogger is by reading my texts, so I encourage you to do so. Above all, if you are interested in staying up to date and reflecting on these issues, both on a practical and informative level.

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