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Mr. Smarty Plants - List of plants native to the Abilene, Texas area

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Thursday - September 15, 2011

From: Abilene , TX
Region: Southwest
Topic: Plant Lists, Edible Plants, Medicinal Plants
Title: List of plants native to the Abilene, Texas area
Answered by: Barbara Medford

QUESTION:

Am looking for direction to a complete list of plants native to the Abilene, Taylor County, Texas area (trees, shrubs, grasses, cacti and other plants that grew here before cultivation, eradication or other civilized improvements). Any article specific to Taylor, Jones, Callahan, Shackelford or surrounding Counties would be wonderful. Interested in food plants for wildlife or humans as well as medicinal and other historic uses (think great-great-grandmother or Native American). Thank you in advance.

ANSWER:

Sorry, we are gardeners, not research librarians. And, contrary to the impression we attempt to convey. Mr. Smarty Plants does not know everything. The only way we could provide such lists would be if they already existed, and we found them by doing research. We will endeavor to give you as many leads to the information as we can find. Warning: There are thousands and thousands of native plants in Texas, making or finding a "complete" list of those native to a specific area would be a life's work for some dedicated researcher, and would involve a great deal of time spent in the field trying to identify what a plant is, is it native, is it edible, and how long has it been there? And you must remember that plants don't recognize county lines. Seeds can be windblown, carried by birds or introduced in animal droppings. A complete list could be accurate today and incomplete tomorrow.

Note that any plant included in our Native Plant Database is confirmed, as nearly as we are able to do so, to be native to North America. On the other hand, there are no doubt many native plants that are not in our database. If you find other plants listed you will need first to check with our database, and then do further research, including searching on the USDA Plant Database to determine nativity.

We suggest you begin with a list of native plants to the Rolling Plains, which will yield 189 plant names. Read the description at the top of that list to confirm that includes the area you are interested in. From this Texas County Map, we determined that the area you are interested in is a neat little square, of neat little square counties, and we believe the Rolling Plains is the proper designation.

If you wish to define plants native to a single county, go to our webpage on a plant, and at the bottom of the page in "Additional Resources." click on USDA Plant Profiles on (name of plant). You will get a descriptive page, perhaps some pictures, of that plant. You can also note on that page the designation "N" for a native plant. On the same page, you will see that the state of Texas is green, which indicates that plant is native to Texas. Click on the Texas map, and you will get a map with the counties where that plant grows natively also in green. Considering that the four counties in question are so close together on a rather unchanging topography, we are willing to bet that a plant native to one county is native to all four.

Edible or medicinal plants: You can go to our Native Plant Bibliography and select on "Edible Plants" in the dropdown "Select by Subject" list. There is also a "Medicinal Plants" designation on that same list. We went through the Edible Plants list and found several that we thought might have helpful information for you; see the Bibliography List below. First, you will have to figure out if a plant is native to the four counties you are studying. Sometimes the webpage on each plant will have information on the medicinal or edible uses of that plant.

Finally, specific county information. Every county has a Texas AgriLife Extension Office; you can contact them for plant lists for the county and information on edible plants as well. Remember, their lists, especially the edible plants, usually fruits and vegetables, will not necessarily be natives, so you will have to check on that. Here are links to the Extension offices in those counties: Taylor County, Jones County, Callahan County, and Shackelford County.

We think now that you probably understand why there are presently no such lists as you have requested in existence. Good luck!

 

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