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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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Monday - November 05, 2012

From: Austin, TX
Region: Southwest
Topic: Seed and Plant Sources, Deer Resistant, Wildflowers
Title: Arizona centaury near Lost Maples from Austin
Answered by: Barbara Medford

QUESTION:

I found a clump of Arizona centaury growing/blooming beside a road near Lost Maples State Nat. Area in the Texas hill country last week. Centaurium calycosum is the scientific name. I have 2 questions: Is is commercially available? and is it deer resistant? I was surprised to find it blooming in November, but there it was, and gorgeous.

ANSWER:

As you can see from this USDA Plant Profile Map, the Centaurium calycosum (Arizona centaury) grows natively in the Kerr/Bandera county area. You are correct, it is uncommon for it to be blooming now, as its ordinary bloom time is April to June; however, bloom times can vary according to the plant hardiness zone in which a plant is growing, odd variations in temperatures and especially rainfall. Obviously, the plants you saw had not read our Native Plant Database to find out when it is supposed to be blooming. This is a member of the Gententiaceae (Gentian) family and an annual so we will postulate that some dormant seeds in the ground took the opportunity to pop up when a rain passed through. This is how Texas wildflowers survive - they don't bloom when we say they do, they bloom when they can in order to make more seeds and help the species survive.

Unfortunately, this plant does not appear on our Deer Resistant Species list. There is another species of this genus, Centaurium texense (Lady bird's centaury), that lives in the same area, but no member of that genus appears as deer resistant. There are definitely deer, in abundance, in the area where you observed the plant, so if they weren't eaten, maybe the deer have enough of other food to eat right now.

Native American Seed is usually our go-to source for native wildflower seeds, but we did not find it in their online catalog. We found a website called Native Seed Network which said the seeds for this plant are not commercially available. On the off chance the Seed Network hadn't looked hard enough, we suggest you go to our National Suppliers Directory, put your town and state or just your zip code in the Enter Search Location box, and you will get a list of native plant nurseries, seed suppliers and consultants in your general area. All will have contact information, so possibly you can find a supplier in the area.

 

From the Image Gallery


Arizona centaury
Centaurium calycosum

Arizona centaury
Centaurium calycosum

Arizona centaury
Centaurium calycosum

Lady bird's centaury
Centaurium texense

Lady bird's centaury
Centaurium texense

Lady bird's centaury
Centaurium texense

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