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Saturday - February 09, 2008

From: Austin, TX
Region: Southwest
Topic: Plant Identification
Title: Identification of native Texas plants from a list
Answered by: Barbara Medford


Please identify Texas Native Plants from the list below: Cotoneaster, Bi-color Iris, Greencloud Sage, Dwarf Wax myrtle, Nolina, Spineless prickly pear, Gulf Muhly, Bamboo Muhly, Big Muhly, Maiden Grass, Mexican Feather grass, Confetti Lantana, Blue plumbago, Mexican Bush Sage, Indigo Spires Salvia, Mexican Mint marigold, Yellow Bells, Columbine, Butterfly Weed, Bulbine, Coreopsis, Turk's Cap, New Gold Lantana, Twistleaf yucca, Soft leaf yucca, Red yucca, Sotol, Purple Trailing Lantana, Coral honeysuckle. Thanks!


The Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center does research and development to encourage the use of plants native to North America (excluding Mexico). To help with this, a Native Plant Database has been developed, on which you can do a search for native plants, certain types of plants, plants for a certain climate, etc. Follow the link to the database, and in the "Search" box, type the common or the Latin name of the plant, and click "Go". If you search for a plant, either by Latin or common name, and get no results from your search, it's pretty good bet that the plant in question is NOT a native. For instance, the first plant on your list, Cotoneaster gave a "no results" message back. So, we searched on "cotoneaster" on Google, and got several weblinks suggested. We chose this one from the National Park Service, and found out that Cotoneaster franchetti is a native of Asia, and therefore not a native of North America. Not only that, the National Park Service recommends this plant not be used, as it can be invasive and crowd out other, more desirable plants. This is another thing that is important to the Wildflower Center, is to avoid planting non-native, invasive plants. Anyway, you can delete that from your list.

Your list is a little confusing, in that some of them appear in our database, but not by the common name you listed. Some of them may be natives, but you have listed some of them by what are probably "cultivar" names; that is, a plant nursery has either cross-bred the native with a non-native, in which case it is no longer native but a hybrid, or just named a native plant a fancy name, or "trade" name for advertising. When you follow each link, look at the information there, and understand why we classified each one as "native to Texas", "non-native" or "cultivar." We've already told you about Cotoneaster, so we'll go to the next one.

Leucophyllum frutescens (Texas barometer bush) The Green Cloud designation is for a variation of Texas sage "selected" (and named) at A&M, but not crossed with a non-native

Morella cerifera (wax myrtle) Again, the "dwarf" designation is for some wax myrtles selected for not growing as tall.

Nolina lindheimeriana (devil's shoestring)

Opuntia ellisiana (tigertongue) This version of the prickly pear is a native, but may be a mutation of some sort, as all the plants in Texas are cultivated from a plant found in Corpus Christi.

Muhlenbergia capillaris (hairawn muhly) Also known as Gulf muhly

Muhlenbergia lindheimeri (Lindheimer's muhly) or Big Muhly, endemic to Texas

Nassella tenuissima (finestem needlegrass) or Mexican feathergrass

Tecoma stans (yellow trumpetbush) or Yellow Bells.

Aquilegia chrysantha var. hinckleyana (Hinckley's golden columbine)

Coreopsis gladiata (coastal plain tickseed) and Coreopsis grandiflora (largeflower tickseed) are both native to Texas. There are a number of other coreopsis that are native to North America but not to Texas, and you can search for them in the Native Plant Database.

Yucca pallida (twistleaf yucca)

Malvaviscus arboreus var. drummondii (wax mallow) or Turk's Cap

Both Asclepias texana (Texas milkweed) and Asclepias tuberosa (butterfly milkweed) are referred to as "Butterfly Weed"

Yucca arkansana (Arkansas yucca) or softleaf yucca

Dasylirion leiophyllum (green sotol), Dasylirion texanum (Texas sotol) and Dasylirion wheeleri (common sotol) are all native to Texas.

Lonicera sempervirens (trumpet honeysuckle) or Coral Honeysuckle


Dietes bicolor, or bi-color iris, is a native of Africa

Miscanthus sinensis (Maiden Grass) is a native of Eastern Asia, including China, Japan and Korea. It has been found to be invasive and disrupting native plant communities from Southeast U.S. across the country in warmer areas to California.

Blue plumbago is a native of South Africa.

Salvia leucantha Mexican bush sage is in our Native Plants Database but this Floridata website indicates that it is native to Mexico and Central America, which are not included in the North American natives, ordinarily.

Tagetes lucida, Mexican mint marigold is a native of Central America.

Bulbine There are several different types, all native to South Africa

Muhlenbergia dumosa (Bamboo muhly) does not appear in our database, but is apparently a native of Arizona and Mexico.


Lantana camara 'Confetti' is a cultivar of a tropical lantana. There are lantanas which are native to Texas, including Lantana urticoides (West Indian shrubverbena) which is multicolored like the 'Confetti" Warning: Lantana berries are poisonous. Lantanas are often classified as invasive and disruptive to native plant communities.

Salvia 'Indigo Spires' is believed to be a hybrid between Salvia farinacea and S. longispicata, both of which are native to Mexico. There are at least two blue-colored sages native to Texas: Salvia azurea (azure blue sage) and Salvia engelmannii (Engelmann's sage).

New Gold Lantana

Lantana montevedensis, Purple trailing lantana is referred to on this Texas A&M site as a Texas native, but we cannot find that in our Native Plant Database.


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