En Espa—ol

Q. Who is Mr. Smarty Plants?

A: There are those who suspect Wildflower Center volunteers are the culpable and capable culprits. Yet, others think staff members play some, albeit small, role. You can torture us with your plant questions, but we will never reveal the Green Guru's secret identity.

Help us grow by giving to the Plant Database Fund or by becoming a member

Did you know you can access the Native Plant Information Network with your web-enabled smartphone?

Share

Ask Mr. Smarty Plants

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

Search Smarty Plants
    
 
See a list of all Smarty Plants questions
Can't find the answer in our existing FAQs, submit a question to Mr. Smarty Plants.
Need help with plant identification, visit the plant identification page.
 
rate this answer
Not Yet Rated

Tuesday - May 03, 2005

From: Bellaire, TX
Region: Southwest
Topic: Rare or Endangered Plants
Title: Smarty Plants on Herbertia lahue
Answered by: Nan Hampton

QUESTION:

Herbertia lahue is now blooming in Russ Pitman Park in Bellaire, TX. Below is a story about it. I heard that the plant is a protected species, but I could not find anything to confirm that. Could you send me some information about this and what it means. Also I would appreciate any other information about the plant.

"If you are lucky enough to visit Russ Pitman Park (on Newcastle at Evergreen in Bellaire, Texas) on a sunny morning in April, you will see a dazzling display of miniature irises, with the scientific name of herbertia lahue, although its name has changed a number of times. Commonly it is known as prairie nymph or pleat-leaf iris. Whatever the name of this protected species, its breath taking carpet of blue is a rare sight. The flowers only open when the sun is out but low. If you pick a flower, it will close. By early afternoon the show is over. The flowers close when the sun is too bright, and the plant, with its slender pleated leaves, blends with the grass. The profusion of herbertia in Russ Pitman Park is due to postponing mowing until the seed capsule is ripe in mid May. Donít miss the show."

ANSWER:

Herbertia, or prairie nymph, (Herbertia lahue) is a member of the iris family (Family Iridaceae). It is native to North America and the USDA Plants Database shows it occuring in Texas, Louisiana, Mississippi, and Florida. It is not shown on the Texas Endangered Plants list as endangered or threatened in U. S. or the State of Texas, nor is it listed in the Nature Conservancy's Annotated List of the G3/T3 and Rarer Plant Taxa of Texas.. In Texas a "protected" plant, according to the Texas Parks and Wildlife Code, must be listed on the U. S. list or the Texas list of Endangered or Threatened species. This means that Herbertia is not protected in Texas. It is not listed on the Florida or Louisiana state endangered or threatened species lists, nor does it occur on their lists of rare species. Only in Mississippi is it listed as rare with a ranking of S2. Globally its ranking is G4 G5 and T4. T4 is for subspecies of H. lahue.

An explanation of the Natural Heritage Program ranking system as given on the Mississippi Museum of Natural Science web page is as follows: "Heritage Ranks: The Natural Heritage Program uses the Heritage ranking system developed by The Nature Conservancy. Each species is assigned two ranks; one representing its range wide or global status (GRANK), and one representing its status in the state (SRANK). GRANK criteria follow those of SRANK except for species having several subspecies. In these cases, a subrank made up of the letter "T" plus a number or letter (1,2,3,4,5,H,U,X,?) Is added to the GRANK. A guide to ranking criteria and symbols follows: S1 — Critically imperiled in Mississippi because of extreme rarity (5 or fewer occurrences or very few remaining individuals or acres) or because of some factor(s) making it vulnerable to extirpation. S2 — Imperiled in Mississippi because of rarity (6 to 20 occurrences or few remaining individuals or acres) or because of some factor(s) making it vulnerable to extirpation. S3 — Rare or uncommon in Mississippi (on the order of 21 to 100 occurrences). S4 — Widespread, abundant, and apparently secure in the state, but with cause for long-term concern ( more than 101 occurrences). S5 — Demonstrably widespread, abundant, and secure in the state."

By the way, the Wildflower Center also had a beautiful display of Herbertia blooming this spring.
 

More Rare or Endangered Plants Questions

Information about pink milkwort (Polygala incarnata)
June 07, 2008 - Why is the pink Milkwort (Polygala incarnata) and what is it's niche?
view the full question and answer

Propagation of endangered plant Texas trailing phlox from Carrollton TX
December 26, 2013 - 1. How many seeds does the Texas trailing phlox produce per season? 2. Can the seeds be taken from a living plant without hurting it? Thank You!
view the full question and answer

Looking for crowsfoot and standing spruce for Christmas wreaths in Maryland
November 15, 2011 - Hi, When I was a young child, my family would go out in the fall to pick two different plants for making Christmas wreaths. I recently found them on the farm across the street and want to make wreaths...
view the full question and answer

Growing Conditions for Yucca cernua
October 22, 2011 - Nodding Yucca or Yucca cernua: I bought many lovely plants at the Wildflower Center sale on Friday, among them, a Nodding Yucca or Yucca cernua. 24 of the 25 plants I bought are already in the grou...
view the full question and answer

Whether Venus flytrap (dionaea muscipula) is endangered
April 04, 2006 - I am a 4th grader at Whitestone Elementary School in Leander, Texas. I am in the Quest program and I am doing a project on the venus flytrap and would like to ask you some questions. 1. Is there an ...
view the full question and answer

Smarty Plants's Facebook profile Support the Wildflower Center by Donating Online or Becoming a Member today.

Mr. Smarty Plants wants you to be his Facebook friend. Click the Facebook icon to add yourself to Mr. Smarty Plants list of friends.
E-NEWSLETTER | BECOME A MEMBER | DONATE NOW | MEDIA | SITEMAP
© 2014 Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center