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Friday - November 09, 2012

From: Bryan, TX
Region: Southwest
Topic: Plant Identification, Wildflowers
Title: Texas wildflower guide with every flower listed
Answered by: Nan Hampton

QUESTION:

Is there a Texas wildflower guide that contains every single flower that grows in the state? I have a few flowers on my land I haven't been able to identify because they aren't in the guide I have. I can't find them on the Internet either. For example I found a type of gayfeather that wasn't in my guide. It only had two types of gayfeather listed. I learned there are at least forty types, not all growing in Texas. I'm leaning toward bracketed gayfeather but I can't be a hundred percent sure because pictures on the Internet weren't to good. So if there is a guide that's really good with pictures, and all the subspecies it would be great to find out about it. Thanks.

ANSWER:

Well, the answer is "yes" and "no".   If you want to know about every (or, at least, almost every) plant that occurs in Texas, there is the Manual of the Vascular Plants of Texas by Donovan Correll and Marshall Johnston (1979).  The volume is 1881 pages long with detailed descriptions of nearly 5000 vascular plants,  but there are no photos—not even line drawings.  It is out-of-print, but used copies can usually be found.   I know this isn't what you are looking for, however.  You are looking for a field guide with color photos and descriptions that you can carry with you. There are several excellent field guides that are currently available (new or used) that would cover Bryan and Brazos County, but none of them contain ALL wildflowers of East Texas.  Here are some of them:

Here is another publication that couldn't really be called a field guide (it has 1594 pages and weighs nearly 10 pounds) but it is very thorough:

Diggs, Lipscomb, Reed and O'Kennon.  Illustrated Flora of East Texas.  Volume 1.  2006.

Volume 1 covers the ferns, the gymnosperms (e.g., pines, spruces, junipers) and monocotyledons (e.g., grasses, sedges, lilies, irises, orchids).  Volumes 2 and 3, covering the remainder of the flowering plants (dicotyledons), are in the works but have not been published yet.

Another publication by the same team does not cover Brazos County, but has many of the same species found there:

Diggs, Lipscomb and O'Kennon.  Shinners & Mahler's Illustrated Flora of North Central Texas.  1999.

This volume contains descriptions and illustrations of more than 2,200 species (ferns, gymnosperms, monocots and dicots) that occur in the North Central Texas area.  It is available online.

The USDA Plants Database lists 44 species of Liatris (gayfeather or blazing star).  Fifteen of these occur in Texas, but not all of those occur in East Texas or Brazos County.  Since Texas is a large place, it is also important to determine where in the state plants are located.

Liatris bracteata (Bracted blazing star) has not been reported in Brazos County, but has been reported in Waller, Harris and Colorado counties–not far from Brazos.   You can see the Texas County Distribution Map on the USDA Plants Database by clicking on Texas on the map.  If click once again, the names of the counties will disappear.  This method for determining county distributions usually works.   However, sometimes the USDA doesn't have a county distribution map.  You can tell which ones don't have county maps by looking at the list of the state or province abbreviations beneath the map.   If the abbreviation is written in black rather than blue, it means there is no county distribution map of the state.

Here are six Liatris spp. that have been reported in Brazos County:

Liatris acidota (Sharp blazing star) and here is the Texas County Distribution Map from the USDA Plants Database.

Liatris aspera (Tall blazing star) and here is the Texas County Distribution Map from the USDA Plants Database.  This is described and with a has drawing on pp. 383 & 384 of the Shinners & Mahler's Illustrated Flora of North Central Texas.

Liatris cymosa (branched blazing star) and here is the Texas County Distribution Map from the USDA Plants Database.  Here are photos from Texas A&M University Vascular Plant Image Gallery:  Photo 1, Photo 2, Photo 3.

Liatris elegans (Blazing star) and here is the Texas County Distribution Map from the USDA Plants Database.  This is described and has a line drawing on pp. 383 & 384 of the Shinners & Mahler's Illustrated Flora of North Central Texas.

Liatris mucronata (Cusp gayfeather) and here is the Texas County Distribution Map from the USDA Plants Database.  This is described and with a line drawing on pp. 384 & 385 of the Shinners & Mahler's Illustrated Flora of North Central Texas.

Liatris punctata (Dotted blazing star) and here is the Texas County Distribution Map from the USDA Plants Database.

Additionally, Liatris pycnostachya (Prairie blazing star) occurs in Robertson and Leon Counties, adjacent to Brazos County.  Here is the Texas County Distribution Map from the USDA Plants Database.  This is described and has a line drawing on pp. 384 & 385 of the Shinners & Mahler's Illustrated Flora of North Central Texas.

You can use our Native Plant Database to help you identify plants.   If you try a COMBINATION SEARCH and choose "Texas" from the Select State or Province option, you then have a large number of other characteristics to help find your plant.   For instance, there is Habit (general appearance), Light Requirement, Bloom Characteristics and more.  After you have entered your choices and come up with a list of plants that you need to decide among, you can scroll to the bottom of each species page to find a heading called Additional Resources.   There you will find links to the USDA Plants Database, Flora of North American (FNA) Online and to Google.  If you click on the USDA link, you will find the distribution map for the species and then you can click on Texas on the map to see what part of Texas the plant has been found in.

 

From the Image Gallery


Sharp blazing star
Liatris acidota

Tall blazing star
Liatris aspera

Bracted blazing star
Liatris bracteata

Pink-scale blazing star
Liatris elegans

Dotted blazing star
Liatris punctata

Prairie blazing star
Liatris pycnostachya

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Bibliography

Lone Star Field Guide to Wildflowers, Trees, and Shrubs of Texas, Revised Edition (2003) Tull, D. & G.O. Miller

Lone Star Wildflowers: A Guide to Texas Flowering Plants (Grover E. Murray Studies in the American Southwest) (2009) Nieland, LaShara J. and Willa F. Finley

Manual of the Vascular Plants of Texas (1979) Correll, D. S. & M. C. Johnston

Shinners & Mahler's Illustrated Flora of North Central Texas (1999) Diggs, G. M.; B. L. Lipscomb; B. O'Kennon; W. F. Mahler; L. H. Shinners

Texas Wildflowers: A Field Guide: Revised Edition (2006) C. Loughmiller, L. Loughmiller, D. Waitt

Wild Flowers of the Big Thicket, East Texas and Western Louisiana (1979) Ajilvsgi

Wildflowers of Houston and Southeast Texas (1997) Tveten, J. L. & G. A.Tveten

Wildflowers of Texas (2003) Ajilvsgi, Geyata.

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