Plant Conservationists You Should Know!

by Tiara Chapman
 

Diya Balagopal – Preserve the Prairie

Did you know that Texas is home to 30% of plant species found in the U.S.? Very soon, Texas will also become home to 10% of the US population, and who wouldn’t want to be a Texan? It’s a great place to live! However, the increase in population has led to development and habitat loss for much of our flora and fauna. The once vast prairies of Big Bluestem grass, Arkansas yucca, and Prairie Penstemon are quickly dwindling. And with new Texans arriving each week, how can we help them connect to our unique, natural landscapes, native plants, and conservation?

From the rich Blackland Prairie to the Post Oak Savannah and deeper still into the Trans-Pecos ecoregions, plant conservation organizations are dedicated to guiding and educating all Texans on these valuable natural resources. Meet a few of our Conservation Partners who are planting seeds of love for Texas native plants.

Texas Master Naturalists
Sponsored by the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department and the Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service, the Texas Master Naturalist Program works to develop a corps of well-informed volunteers that provide education, outreach, and service in support of the beneficial management of natural resources and natural areas within their communities for the State of Texas. You can find Texas Master Naturalists in communities leading youth education programs, clearing out invasive plants in local parks, directing tree and forb mass planting projects, leading weekend wildflower hikes, and more!

Click the link above to learn more about the corps of 12,800 people (and growing) who are blooming about plant conservation.

Native Plant Society of Texas
“For years, it seemed that only God and Lady Bird Johnson, not necessarily in that order, were concerned with wildflower survival. Somebody had to ‘step up to the bar’ and get the job done. I decided to be that person.” – Carroll Abbott, the late founder of the Native Plant Society of Texas (NPSOT) and champion of Texas Wildflower Day. For over 4 decades, NPSOT has united Texans in support of native habitats to build healthy ecosystems. NPSOT supports budding botanists through grants and scholarships, hosts community outreach events, and sponsors the annual Wild Plants of Texas BioBlitz.
If you are ready to turn your lawn into a haven for wildlife, click the link above to register for one of the classes in NPSOT’s Native Landscape Certification Program.

Side view of a yellow butterfly, possibly a Tiger Swallowtail on purple flower called Phlox pilosa.
Image Credit: Marilyn Blanton, Cross Timbers, NPSOT

Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center
Nestled in between the Edwards Plateau and Blackland Prairie is a 284-acre site where you can get up close and personal with over 1000 species of Texas native plants! if you can’t make it out to visit you can always get expert advice on what’s “growing” on outside! Since 2005, their innovative plant advice service, Ask Mr. Smarty Plants, has fielded over 10,000 questions from people all over the world who are curious about plant conservation.
Visit their website to learn more including how they are protecting endangered plants from extinction.

Botanical Research Institute of Texas
Of the 448 rare vascular plants native to Texas, 113 of them are Critically Imperiled and at high risk of extinction. Thankfully scientists at the Botanical Research Institute of Texas (BRIT) are hard at work finding, cataloging, and banking the seeds of these delicate Texas natives. BRIT’s plant conservation work extends globally through the Philecology Herbarium where 1,445,000 plant specimens are preserved. The collection is open to the public by appointment and is one of the best (and possibly last) places to see Quercus tardifolia, the lateleaf oak. 

Sample of the digitized specimen of lateleaf oak, Quercus tardifolia from the Botanical Research Institute of Texas herbarium.
Image Credit: Sample of the digitized specimen of lateleaf oak, Quercus tardifolia from the Botanical Research Institute of Texas’ Herbarium.

Gardening Volunteers of South Texas
Gardening in Texas is not for the faint of heart. This is why it is so important to choose hardy native plants that can deal with drought, heat, and alkaline soil. The Garden Volunteers of South Texas are here to help you get the most out of your landscape by ensuring that you start with the best. Check out their “Go Gardening” video series where they talk about all of the benefits of choosing native plants and give tips for gardening success!

Caesar Kleberg Wildlife Research Institute 
Texas A&M University’s Caesar Kleberg Wildlife Research Institute is home to two programs that collect, evaluate, and provide quality native seed stock for commercial use. Their South Texas Natives program grew in response to increased development that negatively impacted native food sources in wildlife habitats. The Texas Native Seeds program is a statewide initiative to enable plant restoration all throughout Texas. Both of these programs help developers and private landowners source the right seed stock and promote the use of native plants rangeland restoration, highway right-of-way plantings, oil and gas exploration remediation, and horticultural plantings.

A close up picture of several fluffy wildflower and grass seeds against a gray background.
A close-up picture of fluffy wildflower and grass seed against a gray background. Image: Dr. Anthony Falk, Texas A&M University

San Antonio Botanical Garden
What’s the biggest museum you’ve ever been to? There’s a 38-acre living museum in the heart of San Antonio where you can see Texas natives shine! The recently renovated WaterSaver Lane exhibit showcases how native plants can fit into any aesthetic and encourages visitors to experiment with their own landscapes to find a vibe of their own.

Texan by Nature’s vision is for every business and every Texan to participate in conservation and for Texas to be a model of collaborative conservation for the world.
These Conservation Partners are setting the bar for what it means to engage the local community and sprout a love of Texas native plants. Join us in supporting and sharing their work! Interested in volunteering opportunities near you? Check out our Partner Event Calendar for new conservation events across the state each month.

 

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