Helped save endangered native Texas plants

The endangered star cactus ( Astrophytum asterias ) is now known only from one population in Starr County, Texas..

The endangered star cactus (Astrophytum asterias) is now known only from one population in Starr County, Texas..

Texas has 5,000 native plant species, and each has evolved to play a particular role in its ecoregion. Some plants are important food for mammals and insects, while others are critical for hummingbirds and other migrators. These plants also play important roles in ecosystems - their roots hold soil during floods or they bring nitrogen into the soil.

Not only is the Wildflower Center conserving seeds as a way to save plants, it has also helped to save endangered Texas plants, such as Tobusch fishhook cactus, star cactus and Texas poppy-mallow.

In the case of the magenta mallow, conservation staff and colleagues traveled to Ballinger, Texas, in summer 2010 to work in 90-degree plus temperatures to rescue 54 plants before a construction project began. They dug up mallows in two dawn-to-dusk days from the deep sands these plants prefer, and brought them back to the Wildflower Center for safekeeping and study. After two years, Wildflower Center conservation staff reintroduced them to an experimental population in Colorado City.