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Mr. Smarty Plants - Endangered/threatened status for Hexalectris spicata in Texas

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Saturday - November 17, 2007

From: Temple, TX
Region: Southwest
Topic: Rare or Endangered Plants
Title: Endangered/threatened status for Hexalectris spicata in Texas
Answered by: Bill Carr and Nan Hampton

QUESTION:

I was wondering about the status of Crested Coralroot Orchid (Hexalectris spicata) in Texas. Over the years I have located several clumps of them growing on a ranch in southern Bell county. The most recent discovery was today with a clump of half a dozen stalks bearing seed heads that have not yet dried. In an internet search for information, it is listed as endangered in some states but I could not find any similar information pertaining to Texas. The list of endangered plants on the TPWD website is not complete. I know the Texabama Croton (first identified 10-15 years ago) is an endangered species and it is not listed on this site. Could you tell me where I might find out that information for the Crested Coralroot?

ANSWER:

First, concerning the legal status, there are something like 30 or 35 plant taxa in Texas that are officially listed by the US Fish & Wildlife Service as either Endangered or Threatened. Those are the only rare species in Texas that have any formal protection, and that protection is pretty much limited to projects involving federal agencies or federal money. Unlike most states, Texas doesn't formally recognize any plant species as Endangered or Threatened unless the US Fish & Wildlife Service has already done so; therefore, in Texas the federal and state lists are the same. Texabama croton (Croton alabamensis var. texensis), for example, cannot be officially listed as Endangered in Texas because it has not been officially listed as Endangered by the federal government.

Fortunately, plant conservation efforts in Texas proceed regardless of the official legal status of plants. Both Texas Parks & Wildlife and The Nature Conservancy of Texas maintain lists of plant species they consider rare enough to merit voluntary conservation attention. (You can read the Plant Tracking and Watch List and An Annotated List of the G3/T3 and Rare Plant Taxa of Texas from The Nature Conservancy's Texas Conservation Data Center.) The TPWD list includes about 230 plant species—the 30 or so officially listed species plus 200 others with no legal protection status. The TNC list includes all of those and an additional 150 plant species. Both lists include things like Texabama croton that, as you are aware, was described only recently and is known from only about five populations in the world. The Nature Conservancy's list includes three of Texas's Hexalectris species: Hexalectris nitida (Glass Mountain crested coralroot), Hexalectris revoluta (Chisos Coralroot), and Hexalectris warnockii (Texas crested coralroot). We didn't include H. spicata because it is common from the global perspective (this is one wide-ranging orchid) and is also frequent and widespread in Texas. That doesn't mean we wouldn't encourage anyone to do his or her own best to conserve Hexalectris spicata (spiked crested coralroot) and its habitat, especially since there is an awful lot that nobody knows about the biology of all of our coral-roots.

 


Hexalectris spicata

Hexalectris spicata

Hexalectris spicata

Hexalectris spicata
 

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