Archive for the 'Botany' Category

Wildflowers for Truth and Beauty

Friday, March 24th, 2017
Spring bluebonnets as far as the eye can see.

Spring bluebonnets as far as the eye can see.

This is Passport to Texas

Texas roadsides will soon  be awash in colorful wildflowers. Dr. Damon Waitt, director of the North Carolina Botanical Garden, formerly of the Ladybird Johnson Wildflower Center, says these and other native plants have a place in the natural and built landscapes.

Natives provide really important ecosystem services for local wildlife, pollinators.

They filter storm water and rainwater, so they provide all these services to the ecosystem, and they can provide similar services in the built landscape, and reduce things like water use, pesticide use and fertilizer use.

In addition, they have the aesthetic qualities that we want people to learn to appreciate, so they’re not looking for that next exotic ornamental—that they ‘re more interested in finding that next native plant that looks great and functions perfectly in their environment.

There are a lot of people who might look at wildflowers and native plants and say, gosh, how do those fit into my idea of a formal landscape.

That’s something we’re really trying to fight—that concept that if you’re a native plant enthusiast, then your yard must look wild and unkempt. At the wildflower center, we model different design styles using native plants, and you can use native plants in very high designs and very formal designs if that’s the look you’re going for.

Find plants that are right for you at wildflower.org.

That’s our show for today… Funding provided in part by Ram Trucks. Guts. Glory. Ram

For Texas Parks and Wildlife…I’m Cecilia Nasti.

NOTE: Due to the rain and warm weather, spring wildflowers started popping out about a month earlier than usual. So get out there soon to enjoy them before they’re gone.

Plants for Pollinators

Thursday, March 23rd, 2017
Prairie Clover. Image: Russell Graves

Prairie Clover. Image: Russell Graves

This is Passport to Texas

It’s springtime, and a perfect time for planting a garden for pollinators like bees, butterflies and birds.

Even a few native flowering plants will draw a multitude of winged wildlife to your yard. Monarchs and other butterflies, bees, and even hummingbirds swarmed the few flowering plants I installed in my side yard last year.

What a thrill it was to come up the driveway each evening after work to a battalion of butterflies flitting through my garden.

This month I’m going install plants that will bloom from spring to fall, and thrive in the dry clay soil and sunny location I have in mind. These plants include: the Pasque flower, which is a perennial that gets about a foot tall, forms clumps, and blooms in April.

The Pale purple coneflower, which is a 2 to 3 foot tall perennial, and one of the earliest-blooming coneflower species.

Purple prairie clover is a care-free perennial I’m considering. A midsummer-bloomer, it attracts insects like mad. And it’s one to 2 feet tall and just as wide.

A species of Liatris, Tall Blazing Star, is a late-summer to early-fall bloomer that grows 1 foot wide and 3 to 4 feet tall. And, finally, the aromatic aster, a small shrub that blooms in September and October, will provide fuel for a few late season pollinators just passing through.

Pollinator gardens are fun and rewarding. Plant one.

That’s our show…For Texas Parks and Wildlife, I’m Cecilia Nasti

Texas Pollinator Bioblitz

Thursday, October 6th, 2016
Save the Pollinators

Participate in the Texas Pollinator Bioblitz this month and #savethepollinators.

This is Passport to Texas

Calling all citizen scientists. We want you to participate in the Texas Pollinator BioBlitz, October 7th through 16th.

[We have] two goals in mind: to increase awareness about pollinators, and about the habitat that they require.

Johnnie Smith is Texas Parks and Wildlife Conservation Education Manager. Pollinators include bees, butterflies, beetles, moths and other critters that move pollen while foraging.

If you participate in the pollinator bioblitz, you’re going to have an opportunity to observe pollinators at a site that you visit, like your local zoo or aquarium or nature center. And observe the pollinators that are there. Grab a picture of the pollinators you find, and you can post them onto Instagram. We’re asking all of the participants to use the hashtag #savethepollinators.

State parks offer pollinator observation opportunities, too. And, you can also post findings, on iNaturalist.org. Texas Parks and Wildlife’s website, has pages dedicated to the Pollinator Bioblitz.

Where people can learn what pollinators might be in their area. Links to what might be blooming in your area right now—that’s hosted out of the Wildflower center—and then also, to be aware of habitat you have that supports pollinators. And if you don’t have habitat in or near your home, school library… We’re encouraging people to try and get organized in planting pollinator habitat.

The Texas Pollinator BioBlitz is October 7 through 16. Participating is as easy as stepping outside.

The Wildlife Restoration program supports our series.

For Texas Parks and Wildlife…I’m Cecilia Nasti.

Monarch Malaise

Wednesday, October 5th, 2016
Monarch on milkweed.

Monarch on milkweed.

This is Passport to Texas

Habitat loss along its migration route may be one reason the Monarch butterfly is in decline. While feeding on nectar, Monarchs pollinate wildflowers along their route, which benefits our ecosystem.

There are two primary ways that habitat supports pollinators.

Johnnie Smith is Texas Parks and Wildlife Conservation Education Manager.

And one is, the adult pollinators oftentimes feed on nectar of flowers. So, flowering plants that are a food source for the pollinator is very important. But also, is the food source that the pollinator’s larvae rely on as they’re growing up and becoming an adult. And so, that is just as important as the flowering plants that support the adults.

For Monarchs, native milkweed is an important plant. By cultivating them in our yards, along with other nectar and larval plants, we can all play a part in their survival.

There is no effort that is too small to be counted worthy. And there’s no spot of land that is too small to contain pollinator habitat. So, we really want to empower everybody—that they can make a difference. Right where you stand. Right where you live—you can create pollinator habitat, and help turn around this negative trend with the monarchs.

Tomorrow: the Pollinator Bioblitz, an event to build awareness to help all pollinators.

The Wildlife Restoration program supports our series.

For Texas Parks and Wildlife…I’m Cecilia Nasti.

Citizen Scientists Take Biological Inventories

Monday, March 21st, 2016
Getting up close and personal with Texas critters.

Getting up close and personal with Texas critters.


This is Passport to Texas

With the help of biological inventory teams of citizen scientists, Texas Parks and Wildlife monitors plants… herps…

Which are the amphibians and reptiles…

…birds and invertebrates…

…and that would mainly be: butterflies, dragonflies, beetles, bumblebees and such….

…in Texas’ 8 wildlife districts; Biologist Marsha May oversees the program. She says she’s recruiting experts statewide to join these monitoring teams.

Mostly, we’re looking at hobbyists; people who have joined herp societies. They know their herps. As well as birders. There’re people involved in Audubon Society that know their birds. So those are the types of people [as well as those with expertise in native plants and invertebrates] that we’re looking for, for these projects.

These biological inventory teams will monitor species on private land.

So, my plan is to start with organizing teams throughout the state. And once we get good, solid teams in place, then we’re going to go out there and open it up to the landowners, and let them know that these teams are available to come and do surveys on their property.

Knowing what’s on the land helps landowners become better stewards. Find out how to volunteer when you log visit the Nature Trackers page on the TPW website.

Funding provided in part by Ram Trucks. Guts. Glory. Ram For Texas Parks and Wildlife…I’m Cecilia Nasti.