Host an Event Volunteer Join Tickets

Support the plant database you love!

Q. Who is Mr. Smarty Plants?

A: There are those who suspect Wildflower Center volunteers are the culpable and capable culprits. Yet, others think staff members play some, albeit small, role. You can torture us with your plant questions, but we will never reveal the Green Guru's secret identity.

Help us grow by giving to the Plant Database Fund or by becoming a member

Did you know you can access the Native Plant Information Network with your web-enabled smartphone?

Share

Ask Mr. Smarty Plants

Ask Mr. Smarty Plants is a free service provided by the staff and volunteers at the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center.

Search Smarty Plants
See a list of all Smarty Plants questions

Please forgive us, but Mr. Smarty Plants has been overwhelmed by a flood of mail and must take a break for awhile to catch up. We hope to be accepting new questions again soon. Thank you!

Need help with plant identification, visit the plant identification page.

 
rate this answer
1 rating

Thursday - May 05, 2011

From: Grapeland, TX
Region: Southwest
Topic: General Botany, Herbs/Forbs, Shrubs, Wildflowers
Title: East Texas Natives and Botanical History
Answered by: Brigid & Larry Larson

QUESTION:

I am looking for flowers &/or flowering shrubs that are native to east Texas, especially that would have been in this area over 100 or more years ago.

ANSWER:

Mr SmartyPlants wasn’t around in those times so I can’t help you with direct personal experience.  On the other hand, I expect that any plant that is properly acclimated to an area has likely been there for thousands of years or perhaps a time that more closely relates to geologic time periods. 

That said, I think you can quite safely review our recommended species pages and expect that these species have been around quite a bit longer than 100 years.  Here is a link to the “Recommended Species” webpage.  From there, you can choose your region.  You could click on East Texas, or you could look at the lower portion of the webpage where you could choose either  Pineywoods or PostOak Savannah if you had one of those ecoregions specifically in mind.

As a crosscheck, each individual species record has a link to the USDA record where it notes the USDA symbol.  On the USDA website, they show a map down to county detail which shows whether that species is documented in the county and whether it is considered as native or introduced.

  I enjoyed researching your question.  Here’s another approach that can take you towards direct records that the species was documented somewhere around 100 years ago.  I found that the TexaState Historical Association has a searchable “Handbook of Texas Online”.  When I searched for “botanists”  I received a detailed list of the pioneer botanists of Texas.   Many of them worked as field botanists, and it’s likely that a serious historian could even locate their field records.  I’ve taken an easier route for this reply to you.  Almost all of them would name a few species after themselves.  So here are a few of these early botanists combined with their species which are also on the “East Texas” recommended list.

One of the earliest was Thomas Drummond (ca. 1790–1835).  He named a large number of species.  Among those, these species are listed as native to East Texas: Cooperia drummondii (Evening rain lily) and Cornus drummondii (Roughleaf dogwood).  I was interested in Phlox drummondii (Annual phlox); in it’s record it is indicated that it is now in England as an exotic species after Thomas Drummond brought seeds back from his expedition to Texas.

Notice the species name is a latinization of the botanists name.  Several species in Texas carry the names of  Charles Wright (1811–1885) [wrightii] and Ferdinand Jacob Lindheimer, (1801–1879)  [lindheimeri], but none of these are listed on the East Texas Native list. These two botanists are considered the next wave, following Drummond, exploring Texas flora.

However, Levi James Russell (1831–1908) lived in Bell County and has claimed the Eustoma exaltatum ssp. russellianum (Texas bluebells).  The Texas Bluebell is a familiar native to East Texas.

 

From the Image Gallery


Hill country rain lily
Cooperia pedunculata

Annual phlox
Phlox drummondii

Roughleaf dogwood
Cornus drummondii

Texas bluebells
Eustoma exaltatum ssp. russellianum

Texas bluebells
Eustoma exaltatum ssp. russellianum

More Wildflowers Questions

Transplanting bluebonnets in late Fall from Georgetown TX
November 08, 2013 - Transplanting bluebonnets in October? Neighbor wants to share abundance of rosettes and good size plants- any suggestions or warnings? Will freeze/frost protection be needed if we get December freeze...
view the full question and answer

Desmanthus and Chamaecrista seeds
June 05, 2005 - Hello my wildflower specialist friend. I got 20 Desmanthus illinoensis and also Chamaecrista fasciculata seeds. Then I planted them in early March, when there was still frost, in clayish soil, not far...
view the full question and answer

How and when to harvest bluebonnets.
April 30, 2010 - A previous answer mentioned harvesting bluebonnet seeds by pulling up the whole plant when the seed pods turn brown. Two clarifications - when do the seed pods turn brown as these plants are hard to ...
view the full question and answer

Spots on bluebonnets from Godley TX
April 21, 2012 - Hi Mr. Smarty Plants! I'm trying to separate rumor and folktales from fact when it comes to bluebonnets in Texas. I notice that bluebonnet blossoms have a double white spot on the center petal tha...
view the full question and answer

How long do bluebonnets last?
April 21, 2009 - How long do bluebonnets last? When should I no longer expect to see the beautiful state flower along the side of the road? I want to know how long I have to take memorable pictures of my children. Tha...
view the full question and answer

Support the Wildflower Center by Donating Online or Becoming a Member today.