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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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Saturday - April 07, 2012

From: Houston, TX
Region: Southwest
Topic: Cacti and Succulents, Herbs/Forbs, Trees, Wildflowers
Title: Native plants of Taos and Los Alamos NM from Houston
Answered by: Barbara Medford

QUESTION:

Hi, Mr. Smarty Plants, can you recommend a guidebook for the native plants of the Taos/Los Alamos region? (I'm most interested in forbs.) I'll be headed there in May--is there anything I should especially look for? Thanks very much.

ANSWER:

We recommend that you begin with the Native Plant Society of New Mexico. Here is the website for the Taos Chapter; they are planning a Discovery Hike for May 12, and we suggest you contact them as soon as possible and inquire about guesting on that. This is a list of books you can order. You might try searching Amazon for some of these books, if you find a title that interests you, but the address of the member in charge of books, with a web address is included on that website. We found only one website that specifically dealt with the area you are interested in: Native Plants of Northern New Mexico; unfortunately, when we looked at it, many of the plants listed were non-natives, apparently more for the purpose of gardeners in that area than for botanical study.

Go to our Native Plant Database, and search on New Mexico, which will give you 2,207 results. From that list, you can sort on the sidebar on the righthand side of the page for types of plants, such as tree, shrub or forbs under General Appearance. When we searched on forbs (herbs), we got 1,285 results.If it is in our Native Plant Database, it is native to North America. You can check on our website whether it is native to Northern New Mexico. Follow any plant link from your selection of New Mexico plants to our webpage on that plant, go to the bottom of the page to "Search USDA Plants for (name of plant) and it will take you to a map that that will show states where that plant grows naturally in green. Click on New Mexico (if it's green) and you will get a map of the state with counties where the plant grows in green. You no doubt know that Taos County is on the north central border with Colorado, and Los Alamos County is directly south.

You can use those techniques to establish what on the Northern New Mexico list is native, and make sure that the natives you locate are growing in those two counties. At the same location at the bottom of the webpage on each plant webpage there is a link to Google on that plant. That can give you an opportunity to get more information on the plant, perhaps view some pictures we do not have in our Native Plant Image Gallery.

Otherwise, your best bet for a booklet of the sort you are looking for is probably a bookstore or gift shop in the hotel in Taos. Have a wonderful trip!

 

 

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