Our lone Texas bluebonnet dots the ridgeline of the Texas Botanical Gardens and the wickiup structure stands in the background.
You have probably noticed Texas bluebonnets (Lupinus texensis) along the roadsides and on rangelands recently. For Central Texas, they are about to complete their peak bloom period and are setting seed. As a member of the Fabaceae family, this plant produces a bean pod and also fixes nitrogen in the soil, making the nutrient more readily available for plant uptake. Did you know that each of the six bluebonnet species that grow in Texas are designated as Texas’ state flower?
Delicate Greenthread (Thelesperma filifolium), with its threadlike slender foliage, finds a home along the creek in the Texas Botanical Gardens. Greenthread is a favorite nectar plant for butterflies and other pollinators. This native wildflower can be dried and crushed, and infused to make a tea. All plants parts can reportedly be dried and stored for later use.
Note: Caution is advised in using plants in a holistic manner as described here. Elders, herbalists and other traditionalists should be consulted to determine the proper time to harvest and at what state of the plant’s development. Tannins and oils vary in their concentration based on stages of the plant’s development. Uses as described here rely upon anecdotal records from a variety of sources, so care should be exercised when using native plants as herbal and medicinal remedies.
Spikerush is the common name of several species in the genus Eleocharis. This grass-like plant is considered an “obligate” wetland plant meaning that it is usually found in wetter soils along streams and creeks. Our creek and canyon of the Texas Botanical Gardens has several colonies getting established. This plant develops an extensive underground root system and helps stabilize fragile soils along a stream and prevents soil loss and erosion. Spikerush provides cover and food for wildlife.
Texas vervain (Verbena halei) is a member of the Verbena family. Some historical records indicate that this plant can be used to make a tea.
Sandstone washed in the warm light of the setting sun captures the beauty of Verbena (Glandularia bipinnatifida, syn. Verbena bipinnatifida) as it tops the ridgeline of the Texas Botanical Gardens. Sometimes called Prairie Verbena or Dakota Verbena, this wildflower is very common throughout Texas and a steady bloomer until frost. The flowers and stems were historically used to yield a bright yellow dye.
Photos and text courtesy of Melissa Sturdivant – Enrolled Tribal Member, Choctaw Nation of Oklahoma; Soil Conservationist, ISA® Certified Arborist & Oak Wilt Specialist; Goldthwaite Field Office, Natural Resources Conservation Service, USDA.