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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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Wednesday - March 28, 2012

From: Norfolk, NE
Region: Select Region
Topic: Plant Lists
Title: Plants that grow in Canada, US and Mexico from Norfolk NE
Answered by: Barbara Medford

QUESTION:

Are there any plants that grows in Canada, US and Mexico?

ANSWER:

We're not sure we can help you much there. The Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center is dedicated to the growth, protection and propagation of plants native to North America, including Canada but not Mexico. The reason for this is that we have very little information on plants in Mexico. The USDA Department of Agriculture provides us with maps that show what states or provinces various plants grow, but there is no corresponding information now available for Mexico.

We used our Native Plant Database and selected for Washington and British Columbia on the "State or Province" drop-down menu on the Combination Search. This yielded a list of plants which grew in all those places, from which we selected: Abronia latifolia (Coastal sand verbena). By following the plant link you will get this information:

"This is the only yellow Sand Verbena. Two similar species, each differing primarily by flower color, grow along the Pacific Coast. Beach Pancake (A. maritima), from southern California to Mexico, has wine-red flowers, and Beach Sand Verbena (A. umbellata), from British Columbia to Baja California, has flowers varying from deep pink to white."

Abronia is the genus of this plant, while latifolia, maritima, and umbelatta are the species of Abronia of 3 separate, but closely related plants. Abronia latifolia (Coastal sand verbena), as you will see from this USDA Plant Profile Map, is native to British Columbia, Washington, Oregon and California. Then, the text above says that Abronia maritima (Red sand verbena) grows from Southern California to Mexico, while Abronia umbellata (Beach sand verbena) grows from British Columbia to Baja California, which is Mexico. As a result, there are Abronias growing in Canada, the U.S. and Mexico, just slightly different species.

Ordinarily, this is the case because native plants adapt over thousands of years to where they grow natively. The ones in British Columbia have learned to live in Canadian weather, and would probably die in Mexico. The ones in Mexico have learned to live in heat and dry weather, and would probably die in Canada. If you want to experiment more on this rather round about way of getting information, you can follow the same steps. Remember you can't get Mexican plants in our Native Plant Database, but can choose states near the Mexican border, like Texas, New Mexico, Arizona and California, as well as Western Canadian provinces, and check on the Internet to see if that plant grows in Mexico, too.

 

From the Image Gallery


Coastal sand verbena
Abronia latifolia

Red sand verbena
Abronia maritima

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