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Saturday - August 22, 2015

From: McAllen, TX
Region: Southwest
Topic: Plant Lists
Title: List of native plants found in South Texas counties
Answered by: Nan Hampton

QUESTION:

Does the LBJ Wildflower Ctr. have a place on its site where lists of native plants found in each Texas county can be accessed? I am working on a comparative database of commonly used sources (e.g., LadyBird, Richardson & King, Watson et al., NRCS) for folks interested in native plants for the South Texas counties Kenedy, Willacy, Cameron, Hidalgo and Starr. Because yours is such a commonly accepted source of authoritative info re TX wildflowers, I'd like to include it. However, I've not been able to find a way to access this info by county on your site. Can it be done? Thanks for any help. G. Dantzker

ANSWER:

We don't have lists of plants by Texas county as such, but we do have ways of getting to that information.  Let's begin with the list of Texas–South Recommended on our Special Collections page.  This list contains:   "Commercially available native plant species suitable for planned landscapes in South Texas". If you scroll to the bottom of each of species' page for the 116 species listed, you will find a section called ADDITIONAL RESOURCES.  Under that section is a link to the USDA Plants Database for the species of that page.  If you click on the link, it takes you to the USDA Plants Database page that contains a distribution map.  You can expand that map to see in which counties in Texas the plant has been reported.  For instance, for Abutilon hypoleucum (Rio grande abutilon), the first plant on the list, the USDA Distribution map shows it reported for Cameron County but not the other counties you name.  You should be aware that the the USDA Plants Database distribution is based on specimens in herbaria and botanical literature and that the completeness of the records for counties in each state varies.  Just because a map doesn't include the county you are interested in it doesn't necessarily mean that the plant doesn't occur there.  It may occur there but has not been reported. This is especially true if an adjacent county shows the plant occurring in it.  The USDA is constantly working to update the distribution records.

Another source on the Special Collections page is the South Texas Plains Collection under the section called JUST FOR TEXANS—By Texas EcoRegion.  This list is more extensive and contains 246 species.  You can go to the USDA links for any of those species to discover if they occur in any of your counties of interest.  For instance, for Aloysia gratissima (Whitebrush) the USDA Distribution map shows it occurring in Kenedy, Willacy, Cameron and Starr, but not in Hidalgo.

There is a more complicated way to get the data that you are looking for from the USDA Plants Database.  Choose Advanced Search from the sidebar.  On the Advanced Search page there are lots of choices you can make.  I'll outline one search strategy and you can experiment with others., if you like.  Part A:  PLANTS Core Data.  1. Distribution under County Distribution choose your county or counties (you can choose more than one county by clicking on the county while holding down the "Control" key on a Mac or the "Windows" key on a PC).  After choosing your county or counties, check the "Display" box to the right.  Next, under 2. Taxonomy you probably want to put a check in the "Display" box beside the National Common Name.  The scientific name is automatically displayed.  Under 3.  Ecology, you would want to pick "L48 native" and check the "Display" box beside it to the right.  You don't have choose anything in the other slots, but you can make other choices, if you like.  Go to the bottom of the Part A section and click on the yellow box "Display Results".  This will give you a list of plants native to the county (or counties) you have chosen showing their scientific name, the national common name and their nativity.  If you have chosen more than one county and you checked the "Display" box to the right of County Distribution, it will list in which counties the plants occur.

 

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