Thursday, May 25, 2017

Wildflower Week

How many of us have thrilled to see a meadow filled with bluebonnets or to find the very first wildflower of spring alongside a hiking trail? The fields at Hagerman National Wildlife Refuge are blazing now with Coreopsis, Coneflower, Mexican Hat, Gaillardia and more.

"Painted Flowers" by Dana Crites
In recognition of the significance of our precious natural heritage of native flora, Michael L. Young, Acting Deputy Secretary of the United States Department of Agriculture, proclaimed May 21-27, 2017, as National Wildflower Week. “I call upon the people of the United States to join me in celebrating the United States Department of Agriculture's management of native wildflowers and other plants as well as the enduring benefits provided to society by native plant resources in America's National Forests and Grasslands.”

Barbara's-buttons (Marshallia caespitosa) at HNWR by Robert Jones
Why wildflowers?  Here is the answer, from Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center:

Native wildflowers, grasses, shrubs and trees do much more than add beauty to the landscape. They help conserve water, reduce mowing costs, provide habitat for birds, butterflies, and other wildlife, protect the soil, and save money on fertilizer and pesticides. As Lady Bird Johnson said, native plants also “give us a sense of where we are in this great land of ours.”

Phaon Crescent on Frogfruit (Phyla nodiflora) by Carl Hill
But North American native plants, defined as those that existed here without human introduction, are disappearing at an alarming rate due to human activities, such as urban development, agribusiness and the introduction of invasive species. The loss of native plant communities has reduced wildlife habitat and the genetic diversity necessary for balanced ecosystems.

Native plants are not only hardy and require less effort to maintain in home or commercial landscapes but they can provide food and sources for traditional and new forms of medicine.

The Texas Dept. of Transportation, usually referred to as TXDOT, provides an online brochure, Texas Wildflowers, depicting numerous Texas wildflowers, details about each of the ten eco-regions of our state, driving tours and destinations for wildflower viewing.

Happy Wildflower Week!

1 comment:

  1. lovely photos and interesting article, thank you