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Ask Mr. Smarty Plants is a free service provided by the staff and volunteers at the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center.

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Monday - December 01, 2008

From: Austin, TX
Region: Southwest
Topic: Planting, Propagation, Grasses or Grass-like, Herbs/Forbs
Title: Plants native to Galveston that would survive in Austin
Answered by: Barbara Medford

QUESTION:

What plants are native to the Galveston, Texas region? Can any of those plants survive in the Austin area?

ANSWER:

We could find no list of native plants specific to Galveston and Galveston County. In addition, when we looked at various sites, it became apparent that there are a great many non-native and even invasive plants now growing in Galveston. Two possible contacts and sources of information on this are Texas A&M Cooperative Extension Program, Galveston County and Native Plant Society of Texas, Houston Chapter.

Beyond this, we are going to try to find a way for you to answer your question from our Native Plant Database. Since we couldn't determine if Galveston would be considered East Texas or South Texas in terms of our Recommended Species, we decided to come at it from another direction, beginning with our special collection Hill Country Horticulture. In that, we used the NARROW YOUR SEARCH function to search for grass or grasslike plants, and selected Bouteloua curtipendula (sideoats grama) as a possibility. We then went to the webpage on that plant, and, at the bottom of the page, clicked on the link to the USDA Plants Profile on that grass. Then we clicked on the state of Texas, which gave us a graphic of the counties in which that grass is known to grow. Both the coastal area of Texas nearest to Galveston and the Hill Country counties which would include Austin showed the grass growing there. Since Galveston is an island and does not appear on that USDA map, this is still pretty approximate. 

Obviously, this is a very slow and tedious way to find plants that would survive both places. Since you are apparently familiar with and interested in the plant life of Galveston, let us suggest still another way to determine plants that could grow both places. Go to our Native Plant Database, in the Name Search Box type in the common name, scientific name or USDA code for a plant you know grows in Galveston, and then check the USDA Plant Profile map of the State of Texas as explained above. For instance, we knew that there was a Texas native plant called the Beach Morning Glory. We typed that in as the common name, and got three possibilities. We clicked on Ipomoea imperati (beach morning-glory) and went to the webpage, clicked on the link to the USDA Plant Profile. Sure enough, there were counties all along the southern coasts of Texas where it appears but, alas, nothing anywhere near the Hill Country. 

Frankly, this may be an exercise in futility, as the ecologies, climates, amount of rainfall, etc. are very different in the two areas. Aside from some grasses, which are adaptive and versatile, there are probably very few plants that would survive both places. Instead, we would suggest that if you are gardening in Austin, you select plants that are native to the area and will flourish with less water, fertilizer and maintenance because they are already adapted to our conditions. This time, go to our Recommended Species section, click on Central Texas, and use the NARROW YOUR SEARCH function to find the type of plant you are interested in, and read the webpages on each, also following links at the bottom of the pages to further information from Google.

 

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