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This article is about springs. For other uses, see Ciénaga (disambiguation).
A restored cienega in Balmorhea State Park.

A cienega or cienaga is a spring that is usually wet, marshy area at the foot of a mountain, in a canyon, or on the edge of a grassland where groundwater bubbles to the surface. Often, a cienega does not drain into a stream, but evaporates, forming a small playa. The term cienega is used in English in the southwestern United States.


"Cienega" is Spanish and is loosely translated to "marsh," "oasis," or "swamp." However, the word actually means "hundred springs," "cien," hundred; "agua," water or springs.[1]


Because evaporation usually causes the water to be alkaline, vegetation around a cienega commonly includes halophytes, including many unusual, rare, and endangered species of plants and animals. Notable among these is the monotypic genus Anemopsis, widely known in the southwestern United States as Yerba mansa.

Notable cienegas[edit]

See also[edit]

External links[edit]


  1. ^ Barnes, Will Croft (1988). Arizona Place Names. University of Arizona Press. ISBN 0816510741.