Archive for the 'Texas Native Plants' Category

Threats to Texas Bumblebees

Thursday, March 9th, 2017
Texas Bumblebee, photo Jessica Womack

Texas Bumblebee, photo Jessica Womack

This is Passport to Texas

We all know about colony collapse disorder whereby colonies of European honeybees seem to vanish.

Less well known are the threats facing a lot of our native bumblebees.

Michael Warriner is an invertebrate biologist with a soft spot for native bumblebees. Like other native wildlife species in Texas, habitat loss is taking its toll on native bumblebees.

Bumblebees need open, flower-rich habitat—like grasslands. And, a lot of that habitat’s been converted to agriculture.

Warriner says pesticide use is another concern, but the threats to these big black and yellow insects doesn’t stop there.

And also, there’s been the importation of bumblebees from Europe into this country which has brought in parasites and diseases that may be impacting them. So, there’s a lot of concern how they’re faring in North America.

One of the threats to Texas bumblebees might actually be honeybees, which have colonies in the tens of thousands compared to the hundreds of insects in a bumblebee colony.

Honeybees have these tens of thousands of workers, and so they can go out and monopolize a flower resource—like nectar or pollen—and that reduces what’s available for our native bees. And there’s some research that suggests that the presence of honeybees in natural sites can reduce native bees.

We’ll have the potential impact from bumblebee decline tomorrow.

That’s our show for today…The Wildlife Restoration program supports our series…For Texas Parks and Wildlife, I’m Cecilia Nasti

Milkweed for Monarchs

Thursday, August 25th, 2016
Milkweed for monarchs

Milkweed for monarchs

This is Passport to Texas

More than seventy species of milkweed have been recorded nationwide; over half of those are native to Texas. Including two that are endemic.

These are species that are found nowhere else but within the Texas border. One of them is called Texas Milkweed, which is found in canyons in Central Texas. And then we have a species called Coastal Milkweed that occurs roughly from the Houston area to just north of Brownsville.

Jason Singhurst, a botanist with Texas Parks and Wildlife, says milkweeds provide sustenance to the iconic monarch butterfly during its migration.

So, here in Texas, we know certain species like green milkweed, antelope horns, broadleaf milkweed, and zizotes are some of our most abundant species that we’re seeing monarch larvae and adults visit.

Because milkweed species vary, do monarchs use each species in the same or different ways?

That’s a really good question. That’s something we’re trying to figure out in Texas. And that’s why we started this mapping project called Texas Milkweeds and Monarchs project—using iNaturalist. It’s an app that you can download on your smartphone. We’re using that project to help us identify different species of milkweeds across the state, and then also which species that larvae, or adult monarch butterflies are visiting.

Find a link to the Milkweeds and Monarchs project on iNaturalist at

Find an article about milkweeds by Jason Singhurst in the August/September issue of Texas Parks and Wildlife Magazine.

The Wildlife Restoration program supports our series.

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

The Wonder of Wildflowers

Friday, March 18th, 2016
Wildflowers at LBJ State Park

Wildflowers at LBJ State Park

This is Passport to Texas

Texas roadsides will be awash in colorful wildflowers soon. Dr. Damon Waitt, former senior botanist at the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center, and current Director at the North Carolina Botanical Garden, says these and other native plants have a place in the built landscape as well as nature’s landscape.

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

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

TPW Mag: Sharing Responsibility for Nature

Tuesday, April 14th, 2015
A black bear looks for a beehive in a tree in Big Bend's Chisos Mountains

A black bear looks for a beehive in a tree in Big Bend’s Chisos Mountains

This is Passport to Texas

The Chihuahuan desert ecosystem sprawls across Texas and Mexico, making the conservation of its flora and fauna a shared responsibility between the two nations. However, writer Melissa Gaskill says the conservation philosophies of the countries differ.

21—In this country, we form something like Big Bend National Park, and it’s just for the recreation and the wildlife, and people don’t live there. On the Mexican side, they have more of sort of what we would see as a conservation easement approach. Where an area is protected, but there are still homes and ranches and villages—life goes on—but they behave a little differently toward nature.

Gaskill wrote the article Nature Without Borders for the April issue of Texas Parks and Wildlife magazine. Although the US and Mexico share conservation challenges, they also share the successes.

31—One of the successes is black bears. They disappeared on this side back in the 1950s, but given the remoteness of the country on the Mexican side, they remained there, and once they started protecting them actively in Mexico, and we started having all these protected lands on this side that provided good habitat, the bears on their own, crossed the river and repopulated in the Big Bend area. And, they’re doing pretty well; they have the potential to spread elsewhere within Texas where there’s good habitat.

Learn more about the flora and fauna of this area of Texas when you read Melissa Gaskill’s article Nature Without Borders in the April issue of Texas Parks and Wildlife magazine.

The Wildlife and Sport Fish Restoration program supports our series.

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

TPW Mag: Nature Without Borders

Monday, April 13th, 2015

Desert in bloom with Big Bend Bluebonnet and Prickly pear cactus

This is Passport to Texas

Men create borders which nature ignores.

07—Down in the Big Bend area there’s a heck of a lot of nature and there’s a border running right through it and the animals and plants just don’t care.

Nature Without Borders is an article by writer Melissa Gaskill for the April issue of Texas Parks and Wildlife magazine. She explores how the US and Mexico coordinate their efforts to preserve our shared flora and fauna.

20—They’ve actually been collaborating for a really long time in trying to work together. This is really one big ecosystem – the Chihuahuan desert. The way to protect it and effectively manage it, you really have to do that by cooperating on both sides. One side can’t be doing half the job and the other side doing a completely different half the job. It just wouldn’t work that well.

One of the biggest challenges both sides face is the shear vastness of the area in question, but that’s not all.

20—We’re talking about three million acres all told, and that’s a lot of ground to cover for anybody. The fact that there’s an international border in the middle of it—even when you can cross—it just complicates things. You have two governments; two very different approaches to conservation between the two countries; you have a language issue. And then there are the specific challenges in terms of the types of animals out there.

We’ll hear about those tomorrow. The April issue of Texas Parks and Wildlife magazine is available on newsstands and for download on the new Magazine APP. Find download information at

The Wildlife Restoration program supports our series.

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