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Austin Chapter

NPSOT Plant Collection Policy

The Native Plant Society of Texas, in keeping with its basic purpose of education, conservation, and preservation of the native plants of Texas, has created this policy for its members on collection of plant material in accordance with the laws (city, county, state and Federal) and accepted practices of said activity.

Collection of any plant material from public land, such as parks, forests, and roadsides, without proper consent from the proper authorities could be considered vandalism (picking roadside flowers itself is not illegal). To collect any part of an endangered species on public land requires the collector to secure a permit, allowing such activity, from the proper authorities. Texas Parks and Wildlife has two classifications of permit, one for education/research facilities and the other for commercial/private personnel, for land under its jurisdiction.

Collection of plant material from privately owned land (this includes land owned by timber companies and other industries) is only allowed when the collector has received prior written permission from the owner. Endangered species may not be collected without the permission of the land owner.

When dealing with rare, endangered, threatened, uncommon, or species in an unusual location, several factors should be taken into consideration.

First, propagules (seed, cuttings, divisions) should be collected, rather than the whole specimen, whenever possible. Take no more than a small proportion from any site.

Second, if the population at a given site contains less than one hundred specimens, it should be left undisturbed if possible. (This factor should include more common species due to the importance of genetic diversity.)

Third, material should only be collected when there is a high probability of success with propagation/relocation. (Example: Lady Slipper Orchids should never be disturbed because they don’t transplant, and propagation of seed is difficult).

Fourth, relocation/removal of a complete specimen should only be done when the site or species is in imminent danger of being disturbed or destroyed.

Fifth, material in preserves, wilderness areas, and other protected lands (like Big Bend National Park) should never be utilized.

Use common sense.

This policy on plant collection has been developed and adopted by the Board of the Native Plant Society of Texas, in response to many requests from our chapters. Our thanks to Peter Loos for his research on legal and ethical issues, and for drafting the final document.

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About the Region

New Braunfels, the location of our Fall 2024 Symposium, straddles both the Edwards Plateau Ecoregion and the Blackland Prairie ecoregion. Interstate 35 divides the city of New Braunfels; its path through the city closely parallels the boundary of these two ecoregions, with the Edwards Plateau on the west side and the Blackland Prairies region to the east. The Edwards Plateau area is also called the Hill Country; however, this general term covers a much larger area extending farther north. Spring-fed creeks are found throughout the region; deep limestone canyons, rivers, and lakes (reservoirs) are common. Ashe juniper is perhaps the most common woody species found throughout the region. Additional woody species include various species of oak, with live oak (Quercus fusiformis) being the most common. Sycamores (Platanus occidentalis) and bald cypress (Taxodium distichum) border waterways. This area is well known for its spring wildflower displays, though they may be viewed in spring, late summer, and fall, as well. According to Texas Parks and Wildlife, average annual rainfall in the Edwards Plateau ranges from 15 to 34 inches.

The Blackland Prairie extends from the Red River south to San Antonio, bordered on the west by the Edwards Plateau and the Cross Timbers, and on the east by the Post Oak Savannah. Annual rainfall averages 30 to 40 inches, with higher averages to the east. This region is dominated by prairie species. The most common grass species include little bluestem (Schizachyrium scoparium) and Indian grass (Sorghastrum nutans) in the uplands and switchgrass (Panicum virgatum) in the riparian areas and drainages. Common herbaceous flowering plants include salvias, penstemons, and silphiums. This area has suffered greatly from overgrazing and agricultural use. Few intact areas remain, though many of the plants can be found along county roadsides throughout the region.

Our four host chapters (New Braunfels, Lindheimer, Guadalupe, and the Hill Country chapters) are located in one or both of the ecoregions above. However, the eastern portion of Guadalupe County also falls within the Post Oak Savanna ecoregion. Annual rainfall averages 35 to 45 inches, with higher averages to the east. A wide variety of hardwood trees are found, including several species of oaks, elms, and in the Bastrop area, loblolly pine (Pinus taeda). Grasses and forbs dominate in the open savannas, with most common grass being little bluestem. Ranching, agriculture, and fire suppression have allowed woody species to encroach on the once-open savannas.

Source: Wildflowers of Texas by Michael Eason