Slaughter Preserve

 Field of Tetraneuris scaposa, Four nerve daisy

Field of Tetraneuris scaposa, Four nerve daisy

In a continuation of my Texas wildflower updates, this post is from the Slaughter Creek Preserve Trail, a part of a water management land tract managed by the City of Austin. This land is preserved because of its importance as a recharge zone for the Edwards Aquifer. The parcel is covered in porous limestone, typical of western Travis County. This was my first time to visit this preserve, but I was guided by two fellow plant nerds who knew where all of the "goodies" were. If you visit on foot, be aware that mountain bikers and trail runners enjoy this area a lot more than the casual hiker or picnicker, so the trails seem very fast paced. 

Above, you can see a field full of Four nerve daisy. Along with Allium, these were, by far, the most prevalent blooming herbaceous species this day. One can appreciate the impact of a field of yellow, floating, button blooms.

 Virburnum rufidulum, Rusty blackhaw viburnum

Virburnum rufidulum, Rusty blackhaw viburnum

Rusty blackhaw viburnum is a much sought after small tree by area landscape designers who appreciate the native woody species. Unfortunately, they are very seldom found in the nursery trade. Viburnum rufidulum is incredibly adaptable to the Texas hill country environment. This is most definitely the very far western edge of its endemic range, typically found in wetter soils toward Kentucky and the Carolinas. Whenever one can get a small, native, blooming tree to adapt to the shallow, limestone soils of our area, they are worth their weight in gold. 

  Virburnum rufidulum, Rusty blackhaw viburnum

Virburnum rufidulum, Rusty blackhaw viburnum

 Cluster of Toxicoscordion nuttallii, Death camas

Cluster of Toxicoscordion nuttallii, Death camas

As you can tell by the name, this native species of Death camas are very poisonous, from the bulb root to the blooms, even when dried. They sure put on a show, though; like little, shooting stars rising from the ground.

  Toxicoscordion nuttallii, Death camas

Toxicoscordion nuttallii, Death camas

  Toxicoscordion nuttallii, Death camas

Toxicoscordion nuttallii, Death camas

 Field of Amsonia ciliata, Fringed bluestar

Field of Amsonia ciliata, Fringed bluestar

Back out into the open, along the limestone ridge of the highest land formation in the preserve, are several nice communities of Amsonia. This species is found in the hill country, and up through the cross timbers and western plains of Texas, but its observations are not incredibly common. Blue hues are always coveted in native landscapes.

  Amsonia ciliata, Fringed bluestar

Amsonia ciliata, Fringed bluestar

 Giliastrum acerosum, Bluebowls

Giliastrum acerosum, Bluebowls

Travis County is pushing the eastern range of this Giliastrum, which is typically found in far west Texas and much of New Mexico. The blue blooms of this annual are especially striking, especially with their yellow eyes and protruding stamens.

 Crataegus sp., Unidentified hawthorn species

Crataegus sp., Unidentified hawthorn species

Unfortunately, we just missed this Hawthorn blooming by a couple of days. And the exact species has yet to be determined. This is another small, blooming, native tree that would be well received in the landscape industry.

 Asclepias asperula, Antelope horns milkweed

Asclepias asperula, Antelope horns milkweed

Not the most attractive of our native Asclepias species, but definitely the most prevalent and hardy. These were found in relatively high quantity on the preserve. 

 Scutellaria wrightii, Wright's skullcap

Scutellaria wrightii, Wright's skullcap

This native, purple skullcap works well as a nursery and landscape plant. The pink Scutellaria has received higher recognition, but I believe the wrightii to be a more attractive species.

 Echinocereus reichenbachii, Lace cactus

Echinocereus reichenbachii, Lace cactus

All of the area's cacti species are loaded with blooms just waiting to burst open. In addition to the Opuntias, this Echinocereus is ready to put on a show. The reichenbachii species is typically found in between the cracks of sprawling limestone bedrock. These specimens found the perfect home in the lower elevations of the preserve, closer to the floodplain of Slaughter Creek.

Hopefully I will be able to return to Slaughter Creek Preserve Trail soon.