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Learning the Aquatic Plants of Texas: Habitats, Ecology and Identification

July 25 @ 9:00 am - 5:00 pm


July 25 @ 9:00 am 5:00 pm

By: Casey Williams, NPSOT’s 2022 Shirley Lusk Memorial Award award recipient. Casey is recognized for collecting ~ 350 specimens, with a focus on aquatic plants of Texas, with collections housed at the Botanical Research Institute of Texas in Fort Worth and the University of Texas at Austin.

Seminar Location: Meadows Center for Water and the Environment San Marcos, Texas

What makes an aquatic plant “aquatic” ?

Do you want to learn how to ID those “water weeds” or “sea weeds” and why they may not be “weeds” at all? Did you know that many of Texas’ native aquatic plants are surprisingly drought tolerant? Ever ponder your Potamogetonaceae?

Come learn about the remarkable, generally ignored, native aquatic plants of Texas ( with some emphasis on non-native species too)!

Encounter the diversity of Texas’ aquatic flora from swamps of east Texas to the arroyos of west Texas and in between. Texas is home to a variety of aquatic plants mostly unknown to amateur and professional botanists alike. Enjoy a day by the beautiful San Marcos Springs while we learn about the wet plants of Texas.

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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