Big Bend Chapter

Program: Synopsis of January 13th presentation

[from Tom Kennedy, Acting Program Director; Treasurer]

The January program for the Big Bend Chapter of the Native Plant Society of Texas was held at the Alpine Public Library on January 13. Tom Kennedy, Acting Program Director, kicked off the meeting by giving a preview of the chapter program schedule for the spring. Tom invited chapter members to suggest topics for the fall programs by sending their ideas to Also, volunteers are needed to assist with chapter operations. If you are interested in volunteering, please contact Tom at

The topic of the day was “Native Plants for Native Birds in the Trans-Pecos”. It was presented by Dr. Maureen Frank, a Bird Conservation and Research Scientist from the Borderlands Research Institute. She began her presentation by defining the essence of a habitat and why birds need native plants in their habit, illustrating this through several examples. For those interested in creating a habitat for desired birds in their yard, Dr. Frank described several ways to identify the birds in your habitat, including field guides, apps, the eBird website, local birders and local events. Particularly impressive was the eBird website, which provides a means for searching for birds using a plethora of criteria.

Once you determine the birds you want to attract to your habitat, you can use the Audubon Native Plant Database or the Native Plant Finder web sites to identify native plants that are compatible with your desired birds.

In addition, Dr. Frank discussed providing supplemental food, water and shelter for your fine feathered friends in their native habitat.

The presentation enjoyed a full house and was well received. Thank you, Dr. Frank, for your enthusiasm and fact filled presentation.

Tom Kennedy, Acting Program Director; Treasurer

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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