Close friends of mine have a wild game ranch off of FM1431, east of Marble Falls in Burnet County. The tract is bordered on the south by the Colorado River and to the north lies the Balcones Canyonlands National Wildlife Refuge. Located on the eastern edge of the Edwards Plateau, there is a large variety of flora found here between the limestone outcrops. It was hovering around the freezing mark during the visit, and drizzling to boot. Even with adverse weather conditions, many species were easy to spot. When it warms again, I hope to make a more thorough visit.
There were several communities of Y. treculeana on this ranch. This species is found in deep south Texas and its range trickles up through a few counties in the Hill Country.
M. lindheimeri is a great native grass that can easily be transitioned into a controlled landscape. My wish is for more designers to substitute this grass for the asiatic fountain grasses typically used. This species is found exclusively in the Hill Country.
How often do you see natives blooming in the dead of winter? T. scaposa blooms all 12 months of the year. They are typically found on gravely sites that have good drainage, usually sloping. It's found from Texas north through the Great Plains.
These communities of Y. constricta were found throughout the site. I'm hoping that the livestock on the property will allow some bloom spikes to go to seed this spring. Y. treculeana is peeking through the trees in the background.
A. americana and varieties of are widely used in landscape designs in southern Texas. I am unsure whether this specimen is naturally occurring or if it a remnant of an earlier planting as it's in proximity to some older construction (this seems most likely). It has been documented in a neighboring county, but it is considered rare. Most Agave species are found to the west and south into Mexico.
Opuntia species are often difficult to identify. There are so many different species occurring in central Texas and they are often differing in appearance due to temperature, moisture, and soil chemistry. The colorfulness of this specimen has brought me to the identification of O. phaeacantha.
Like Y. constricta, Y. rupicola was fairly common on this property. Its common name is derived from the leaves that curl along the margins and twist from base to tip. This species is exclusively found in central Texas on rocky slopes and makes a great landscape plant. Notice Opuntia lindheimeri in the background.
M. trifoliolata is a sharp-leaved shrub found in the western 2/3 of Texas. It's low profile serves as good cover for quail and its red fruit is prized by other birds. These specimens had an exceptional blue foliage color.
B. neglecta is usually found in mismanaged sites where adequate ground cover has been overgrazed or destroyed. It can become a problem if conditions that allowed the species to flourish continue. This plant is highlighted by plumes of white blooms in the fall and is sought after by pollinators.
How beautiful is this arrangement of N. texana? Found from the HIll Country west toward the Chihuahuan Desert, this community has found a perfect location perched on this limestone cliffside. This genus is great because they have the appearance of a wispy grass, but the tenacity of a desert plant. They're also evergreen AND bloom! This species' blooms are cream-colored and stay close to the base. There are a couple Yucca treculeana mixed in there and Muhlenbergia lindheimeri in the foreground.
Again, this species identification is mostly an assumption based on spine color, and the yellow spines were especially fluorescent this day. This species is fairly common throughout the state and southwest US.
Similar to its N. texana cousin, N. lindheimeriana is a tough, evergreen, grass-like plant. With longer leaves, this species also has a taller bloom spike, reaching up 4 feet or higher. These were found on a northern limestone cliffside.
Just a few feet from the aforementioned N. lindheimeriana, this Dalea species was growing. There are many species of the genus in Texas and I wasn't able to get a proper ID, but frutescens is my most accurate guess at this time. Hopefully I can catch the blooms this summer.
I'll close this entry with a couple of unidentified species and a scenic watering hole.