News from the Center for Plant Conservation
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Dear CPC Friends,

Texas is by all accounts big. With over 268,000 square miles of land and 27.5 million people, the state is bigger than many entire nations around the world. And at almost 800 miles wide and 800 miles tall, Texas covers 10 climatic zones with 11 recognized vegetational areas. These distinct areas include high plains, pineywoods, Gulf marshes and post oak savanna, among others. According to the Native Plant Society of Texas, there are nearly 5000 native species of plants found here as well as nearly 2000 cultivated, naturalized and invasive plants to contend with.

Our CPC Participating Institutions in Texas are working together with local, state and federal authorities and land owners to come up with a state-wide strategy for plant conservation. This last April, CPC and our partner the Botanical Research Institute of Texas convened a CPC Texas planning meeting in Fort Worth to outline the beginnings of this strategy. And in November, several hundred plant conservation partners will gather again in Fort Worth for the Texas Plant Conservation Conference. The goal is to create a formal Texas Strategy for Plant Conservation and to propel the state into being a national and world leader in conservation.

A rather unique challenge for conservation in the state is that over 95% of Texas land is privately owned. This means that any substantial effort to save native plants in Texas requires buy-in from local land owners. But plant conservation is fortunately big in the Lone Star State, with numerous gardens, societies and other organizations promoting native plant diversity and working directly with all Texans to advocate for the natural heritage of this beautiful state. This issue of Save Plants highlights some of the many efforts in Texas to preserve the irreplaceable plants found here.

Thank you. In our September issue, we'll feature the Midwest. Please feel free to share any comments by emailing me at

John R. Clark, President and CEO

Updates from our Participating Institutions
Saving Plants - Like wildlife in danger of extinction, plants face their own set of threats like habitat loss or invasive species that overwhelms an existing plant population. The Endangered Species & Native Plant Garden, part of the Mercer Botanic Gardens, is not only home to threatened or endangered native plant species, but also serves as an important teaching tool to the more than 200,000 visitors each year. Loss of these plants can mean a weakened ecosystem and depletion of a gene pool that may hold the key to cures for diseases. Extracts from Correll’s false dragon head (Physostegia correllii), for example, suppresses certain human tumor cell lines. Many Texas native plants have ethnobotanical uses, like treating coughs and stomachaches, or making soap and dyes. The Endangered Species & Native Plant Garden illustrates how we can all help in this endeavor – we can even sponsor an endangered native Texas plant species for the Center for Plant Conservation to help this effort.
Milkweed and Monarchs - The sign says “Tanglewood Prairie,” and a tangled mix of poison ivy, pepper vine, and Southern dewberry gives meaning to that name. Conservationists from the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center, however, were determined to help a native plant survive which, in turn, helps Monarch butterfly larvae also survive. Searching for and collecting milkweed seeds is part of the three-pronged approach the center, partnered with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and other organizations, is using to ensure the availability of milkweed to Monarch butterflies (Project Milkweed). The approach includes projects for collecting seeds from native milkweed plants and sharing them; large-scale propagation of the species; and creating workshops for Texans that want to help propagate local milkweed. The Center will share growing protocols with the public and distribute about 300,000 milkweed seeds to local and commercial growers.
Documenting Diversity - It is truly remarkable when a plant that is nearly extinct, or that is so rare that it is in danger of disappearing, can be protected, and in some cases saved from extinction. But how can you protect something if you don’t know it exists? This is one of the questions front and center at the Botanical Research Institute of Texas. There are many ecosystems and rare plants that are unknown to scientists – by documenting diversity it is possible to determine the biodiversity of an area and the impact that things like development might have on the plants and on the entire ecosystem of the area. The process is like a treasure hunt – searching out and documenting ensures these unknown species and ecosystems are noticed. A recent grant award to study four rare species, such as Reverchon’s scurfpea (Pediomelum reverchonii), is part of this process. A collaborative, state-wide strategy for plant conservation is also essential.

FEATURED RESEARCH BOTANIST - Kim Taylor is a research botanist at the Botanical Research Institute of Texas. She joined BRIT in 2010, following graduation from Austin Peay State University. While at Austin Peay she studied the floristics of seasonally wet limestone cedar glades of Tennessee and Kentucky. This rock outcrop ecosystem harbors several rare and endemic plants. Kim worked to bring this unique community the recognition it deserves. Since joining BRIT, Kim has continued to focus on rock outcrop communities. She is passionate about understanding the distributions of rock outcrop vegetation, particularly of rare species. She is currently studying the distributions and habitats of several rare Texas species. Documenting and understanding the true status and distribution of our rarest species is the first step in conservation. Kim writes: "I know, it doesn’t sound that exciting, but we cannot protect what we do not know. Before we can protect a piece of land, we need to know what we stand to lose if we fail. . ."
MEET JACKIE POOLE, CPC Scientific Advisory Board member – Jackie Poole is a taxonomist and worked curating the herbarium collections at Harvard University and the University of Texas, Austin, and as a botanist for the Texas Natural Heritage Program (which became the Wildlife Diversity Program of the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department). She has written status reports and recovery plans on rare plants, published articles in professional journals, is a member of various recovery teams, scientific subcommittees, and biological advisory teams, and Flora North America (Executive Committee Member, South Central Regional Review Coordinator, and taxon editor.) She also co-authored Endangered, Threatened, or Protected Native Plants of Texas and is lead author of Rare Plants of Texas. Jackie retired from Texas Parks and Wildlife in 2014 and moved to west Texas and volunteers at the Sul Ross State University Herbarium. In her spare time, Jackie likes to garden and travel to see different floras and cultures around the world.
PLANT OF THE MONTH - Endangered Texas wild rice (Zizania texana) grows along a 2-mile stretch of the spring-fed San Marcos River in central Texas. Since its listing as endangered in 1978, Texas Parks and Wildlife Department has led the effort to save Texas wild rice. Teams of conservation partners including TPWD, USFWS, UT-Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center, and the City of San Marcos, among others, have developed conservation management plans for the long-term survival and conservation of Texas wild rice. Threats remain, however. The San Marcos River is a popular water recreation site. Thousands of tubers float down the river and over the rice clumps weekly during the summer. Plus invasive species continue to abound in Texas wild rice habitat and must be managed constantly. By managing the threats and educating the public about Texas wild rice conservation, the species remains protected. Read more here.

EVENT ANNOUNCEMENT - Registration is open and abstracts are being accepted for oral and poster presentations for the 2016 Texas Plant Conservation Conference, November 2-5, at the Botanical Research Institute of Texas and Fort Worth Botanic Gardens. Topics include but are not limited to research involving conservation of rare and endemic plants, plant biogeography, genetics, demographics, reproduction, population biology and public and agency involvement in plant conservation. Students are strongly encouraged to present research posters. Find out more information at: Questions? Contact Karen Clary at

• September 1-10, 2016
IUCN World Conservation Conference 2016
Honolulu, Hawaii  More

• November 1 - 3, 2016
Southeastern Partners in Plant Conservation Conference
Atlanta, Georgia  More

• November 2-5, 2016
Texas Plant Conservation Conference 2016
Fort Worth, Texas  More

Center for Plant Conservation National Headquarters
15600 San Pasqual Valley Rd.
Escondido, CA 92027-7000
(760) 796-5686

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Copyright © 2016 Center for Plant Conservation (CPC) • CPC is a 501(c) (3) not-for-profit organization EIN#22-2527116. Donations are tax deductible to the fullest extent of the law.

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The Center for Plant Conservation · 15600 San Pasqual Valley Road · Escondido, CA 92027-7000 · USA

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