Get to know an endangered plant – Texas trailing Phlox

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Texas trailing Phlox (Phlox nivalis subsp. texensis)

Listing Status: Endangered

The Texas trailing phlox was once considered extinct, but the fair flower was rediscovered by Geyata Ajilvsgi of Bryan, Texas in 1972. Named after the Greek word for “flame,” phloxes are among the earliest harbingers of spring—their bright blossoms begin to appear in a splash of colors each March. New growth is most often seen during periods of highest rainfall, in early spring and early fall. Texas trailing phlox is well-adapted to fire. Although aboveground parts of the plant are destroyed by fire, underground parts are undamaged, and new growth appears within two weeks after a spring burn. If prescribed burning occurs in April, even plants that had flowered before the fire will resprout and flower again in May.

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Texas trailing phlox plants are evergreen, growing whenever temperature and moisture conditions are favorable. This endangered subshrub with thin needle-like leaves and pink to magenta flowers native the Pineywoods region of southeastern Texas. Its stems creep along the ground with the final 2 to 15 centimeters growing upright and blooming.

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As the longleaf pine forests disappeared, so did the trailing phlox. The plant was listed as a federally endangered species in 1991. At time of listing, only one occurrence in Hardin County was known. Since then, populations in Tyler and Polk County have been found. One population has been reintroduced to Big Thicket, and three more sites were found in surveys. Restoration of longleaf-pine habitat on private land has resulted in 2 additional sites. This means a total of 6 new sites have been recorded, not including the current reintroduction. Since that time, a handful of new populations have been discovered and reintroduction efforts have had some measure of success.

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If you do spot one please note were it is (your phones GPS can really come in handy for this) and tell the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service as soon as you can.

Find out more where I did. . . 

tpwd.texas.gov

centerforplantconservation.org

nature.org

eol.org

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