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Muhly grasses (Muhlenbergia species) is a group of grasses named after a German botanist.
The prairie is a diverse ecosystem of mainly native grasses and flowering plants (forbs) with prairie wildlife, soil, geology, and fire playing very important roles.
Today the tallgrass prairies of Texas are very rare. Less than 1% of the original 20 million acres of Texas’ beautiful tallgrass prairie remains and losses are still occurring to plowing, improper overgrazing, and development.
Texas was once 3/4 prairie and savanna. The Tallgrass Coastal Prairies reached many miles inland from the Gulf, and the Tallgrass Prairie extended from southern Canada through Fort Worth-Dallas south to San Antonio including Texas’ Blackland Prairies and Grand Prairie.
The Hill Country of the Edwards Plateau was a mosaic of plant communities, with Mixed Grass Savanna/Prairie presumed to have been a large component. The Post Oak Savanna was native savanna, with a prairie understory and an open canopy of Post Oaks and other trees above.
The Rolling Plains and the High Plains of the Panhandle were Mixed Grass and Short Grass Prairie, and much of West Texas was Desert Grassland filled with grama grasses.
Our early Texas wealth, cattle, cotton, and grains, are still based on these now-degraded habitats. The soils they created now feed the world.
The east half of Travis County around Austin, TX, known as the Blackland Prairie, was once part of the southernmost extension of Tallgrass Prairie. This was habitat to the indigenous peoples and prairie-dependent species such as buffalo, antelope, badgers, prairie wolves, burrowing owls, and many others.
What we see today is a poor representation of what was. The American Prairies are endangered, yet the Endangered Species Act does not protect endangered habitats.