Maybe you haven’t given much thought about Texas Mountain Laurel or Flame Acanthus, some of Texas’ Native plants. Well, maybe you should.
Native plants are used to provide nectar, seeds and pollen as a food source for native insects, birds, butterflies and other animals. The plants can also prevent water run-off and improve air quality, as well as other ways to help the environment.
“Today it’s almost life or death for us,” said Kim Conrow, president of the Native Plant Society of Texas. “We are losing pollinators, right and left, for a variety of reasons. But if we don’t, as individuals and corporations and schools, all start planting native plants that native pollinators can use for their life, we are not going to have food to eat.”
But don’t worry, here’s how you can help.
Starting Oct. 18, the Native Plant Society of Texas (NPSOT) will celebrate its 40th anniversary and hold virtual sessions during Texas Native Plant Week. It’s a perfect opportunity to learn more about native plants and all their benefits. It’s free, too.
They’ve got sessions on the Historical Uses of Texas Plants, which haven’t just been used for food, medicine or shelter. They’ve also been used as helpful tools for theater effects and pollution detectors. Another is Native Grassland Restoration, How Plants Grow and How to Improve Them. It’s a session with Ricky Linex, a wildlife botanist and author of Range Plants of North Central Texas, A Land Users Guide to Their Identification, Value and Management, a plant identification book for Texas.
You might also enjoy a Tour of TWU Butterfly Gardens or even how Dallas’ Texas Discovery Gardens plan for incorporating native plants into their gardens and how you can too. You can also have Coffee Time With Some Plant Friends at the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center.
The NPSOT actually got its start in Denton in 1980. The next year, it was sponsored and held at Texas Woman’s University — now it has more than 30 chapters all over the state, from the panhandle to South Texas.
NPSOT celebrates Texas Native Plant Week every year, which became official in 2009. The week-long tradition was pushed to Texas legislation by two members of NPSOT.
Conrow said the anniversary commemorates the growth and acknowledgment of native plants in the state.
She also said it’s an opportunity to educate Texas residents on the value of native plants at schools and in their own backyards.
The group’s 40th-anniversary symposium was canceled in June because of the COVID-19 pandemic. Conrow said chapters are adjusting to this time.
“The larger chapters seem to be functioning better and doing zoom,” Conrow said. “And expanding with Youtube and doing Facebook Lives. The smaller chapters are having a little more difficulty getting speakers together.”
In July, NPSOT instituted a state-wide event calendar on their website. It serves to help the chapters with gathering events. And non-members can also browse through their site to learn about multiple resources for native plants in Texas.
Conrow will kick off the celebration with Texas State Representative of Austin Donna Howard, who presented the Texas Native Plant Week bill back in 2009.
NPSOT has partnered with Texas Parks & Wildlife for a second year to see how many plants can be documented in a single week. Throughout Wild Plants of Texas Week, participants are encouraged to see how many wild plants, not cultivated or planted, can be observed using the iNaturalist Bioblitz app.
There will be over 10 sessions during the week. Sign-up to register.
Got a tip? Email Mia Estrada at [email protected]. You can follow her on Twitter @miaaestrada.
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