Native Wildflowers That Scoff at the Scorch

Drought can stress many a plant. But these untamed Texas mavericks know just what to do and how to get through.

After the hottest May on record and only scant rainfall all year, South Texas is experiencing another severe drought. Looking out at the landscape, many plants are showing signs of stress. Of course, native Texas plants in the wild all have strategies to cope with times like this.

Many plants go dormant during drought, but it’s worthwhile to highlight the wildflowers that are still blooming.

This is by no means an exhaustive list, but just a few of the flowering plants I noticed during a short stroll along the Leon Creek Greenway early this month. I snapped real-time photos of the plants I encountered since many photos online show plants in non-drought conditions.

Wild petunia (Ruellia nudiflora) is still blooming in the shade.

Texas prickly poppy (Argemone spp) are still producing their large white flowers.

Woolly tube tongue (Justicia pilosella) in the shade is still producing flowers while their counterparts in the sun have stopped.

Horseherb (Calyptocarpus vialis) in the shade is still blooming, but many in direct sunlight have gone dormant.

Alamo vine (Merremia dissecta) are just starting to bloom along the trail.

American germander (Teucrium canadense) kind of a cheats as they grow best in areas that receive extra water, but they are beginning to bloom.

Indian mallow (Abutilon fructicosum) are producing a second round of orange flowers for the year.

While other plants are starting to show signs of heat stress, Texas brustwort (Hermmania texana) are having a banner year. The tiny red flowers don’t open up much, but they’re visited quite often by native bees.

Swanflower (Aristolochia erecta) can be hard to find mixed in with grasses, but these unique wildflowers are producing a second round of flowers now. This particular one is hosting pipevine swallowtail larva.

Scarlet pea (Indigofera minimata) aren’t producing as many flowers as they would in a wetter year, but these miniature pink flowers began blooming last month and are still hanging on.

So named for its barebones near leafless appearance, Texas skeleton plant (Lygodesmia texana) is another one that doesn’t seem to be phased by the heat yet. The large pale purple flowers can be seen growing mixed in with various largely dormant grasses.

Silky evolvulus (Evolvulus sericeus) is a small member of the morning glory family and produces smaller than dime-sized flowers.

Zexmenia (Wedelia hispida) are still blooming strong while others seem to be satisfied with producing leaves instead of flowers.

Picture of Cleveland Powell
Cleveland Powell
Cleveland Powell is a conservation planner for SAWS. He is enthusiastic about grass taxonomy and milkweed propagation. In his free time, Powell enjoys hiking around area parks in search of intriguing bugs, birds and plants.
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