Wiildflowers  of  Texas


From the Pineywoods of East Texas with 60 inches of rain annually  to the West Texas Chihuahua Desert with 8 inches/year, Texas has 10 ecological zones, each with its own distinctive vegetative association. The range of many wildflower species roughly follows the 5 geographical regions chosen here, but plants don’t always respect arbitrary boundaries. Many grow in more than one region and some occur statewide, while others are limited on the planet to only a few Texas counties. These statewide guidebook highlights more than 700 of the most common wildflowers seen, as well as significant rare and endangered species.

East Texas

The wettest region of Texas receives 60 inches of rain annually with a summer climate that exceeds 90 degree F. and 90 percent humidity, and winters with seldom hard freezes. The dense pine-hardwood woodlands of the Pineywoods covers the east, including Big Thicket, one of the most biodiverse regions in North America. The Post Oak Savannah separates the Pineywoods and the Blackland Prairie of north-central Texas (DFW). Coastal Prairies and Marshes border Gulf coast.

Texas Hill Country

This section of Texas includes the counties of the Edwards Plateau, a limestone uplift dissected by eroded canyons bounded by the Balcones Escarpment (IH-35) to the east and the Pecos River to the west, and the Llano Uplift, an area of granite soils with a distinctive vegetative community. Waco and Abilene form the northern border and San Antonio and the South Texas Plains the southern border.

North Texas–Panhandle, Prairies, and Plains

This region covers the botanically diverse Panhandle, composed of the High Plains (Llano Estacado) and Rolling Plains, and the north Texas Blackland Prairies (DFW area) interspersed with the oak woodlands. Many of the Shortgrass and Tallgrass Prairie species of the Great Plains reach their southern limits here.

South Texas

Extending south from a line connecting Del Rio, San Antonio, and Victoria, the sub-tropical South Texas Region rarely experiences extended freezes. It includes three major vegetation communities with 1,200 species of plants documented. The Coastal Prairies and Marshes extend inland along the Gulf coast from Louisiana to Brownsville and encompass Victoria, Calhoun, Refugio, San Patricio, Neuces, and most of Kleberg counties. Sand washed down the Rio Grande forms the barrier islands and lagoons along the coast. Prevailing winds blow the sand inland to create the South Texas Sand Sheet. Deep deposits cover Kennedy, Brooks, and parts of Klebreg, Jim Wells, Jim Hogg, Starr, Hidalgo, and Willacy counties. The South Texas Brush Country, a sub-tropical thorn forest community, covers the Rio Grande Valley and central portion of the region. Ninety-five percent of the Rio Grande Valley has been cleared for farmland.


The area west of the Pecos River in west Texas falls completely within the Chihuahua Desert, which extends deep into Mexico. Though averaging less than 8 inches of rain annually, it is one of the richest deserts in the world. More than 1,500 plant species occur in the U. S. With desert basins and entire mountain ranges, the Trans-Pecos varies from 820 feet at the Rio Grande to 6,562 feet in Big Bend National Park and 8,751 in Guadalupe Mountains National Park. Besides two of the most biodiverse national parks in the nation, it includes Big Bend Ranch and Davis Mountains state parks. From arid low desert to moist mountain tops, plants have specialized in the many micro-habitats and often have very limited distribution.

wildflowers  of  texas 
Apple  e-book  field  guide


Abronia ameliae

Four-O’Clock Family, Nyctaginaceae

Perennial herb

When this showy plant covers the roadsides, traffic stops. Sprawling to erect stems 12–18-inches tall form dense stands covered with showy clusters of magenta flowers.

FLOWERS: Round clusters 3-inches wide with 20–75 flowers grow on long flower stems from the leaf axils. The 1-inch long, tubular flowers are 3/8-inch wide with 5 petal-like lobes. Sticky hairs cover the stems and leaves.

LEAVES: Opposite leaves have stems (petioles) 3/8-3 1/2-inches long, and egg-shaped to elliptic blades 3/4–3-inches long, 3/4–2 1/2-inch wide, with wavy, unevenly lobed margins.

BLOOM: March–May.

RANGE: Loose, sandy soils of live oak-grasslands, roadsides, disturbed areas; endemic to the South Texas Sand Sheet.

SIMILAR SPECIES: Scarlet Mustflower, Nyctaginia capitata, in South, Central, and Trans-Pecos Texas, has rounded clusters with 5–18, musty smelling flowers.

NOTE: This is one of the 54 species endemic to the South Texas Sand Sheet (Kennedy, Brooks, and parts of Klebreg, Jim Wells, Jim Hogg, Starr, Hidalgo, and Willacy counties).



Coryphantha vivipara (Escobaria vivipara)

Cactus Family, Cactaceae

Perennial cactus

The round to cylindrical stems, single or clumping, of this showy cactus reach 2 3/8–7 3/4-inches tall and 1 1/8–2-inches in diameter and are covered with 3/8–1-inch long tubercles. Flowers grow from the stem apex.

FLOWER: From 1–5 or more magenta flowers, 1 1/8–2 1/2-inch wide, crowd the apex of the stem. The numerous petal-like tepals have pointed tips; the outer ones are lined with hair-like fringe.

SPINES: The three varieties in Texas vary from 10 to 40 white radial spins that can spread to obscure the stem. In the Trans-Pecos, var. vivipara has 4 central spines, bright-reddish on the upper stem half, and 10–26 bright-white radials that do not obscure the stem; var. neomexicana has 5–11 white to straw-colored centrals with dark tips, and 25–35 radials that obscure the stem. In Central and the Panhandle and Prairies of North Texas, var. radiosa has 4–7 straw-colored to white central spines, and 17–30 radials that do not obscure the stem. Fruits are green, oval, 5/8–1 5/8-inches long.

BLOOM: May–June.

RANGE: Sandy, gravelly soils of desert scrub, juniper hills, conifer forests in the Trans-Pecos, Panhandle, North Texas Prairies, Central Texas.

SIMILAR SPECIES: Three varieties in Texas have spine differences noted above. The flower of var. vivipara, in counties adjacent to the Pecos River, has magenta to pink stigma lobes;  var. neomexicana, in western Trans-Pecos, has white stigma lobes;  var. radiosa, in the Panhandle, North Texas Prairies, and Central Texas, has a rose-colored stigma lobes. Two fishhook cacti, Mammillaria grahamii and M. wrightii, both rare in the Trans-Pecos, have look-alike flowers but long, hook-tipped central spines.



Lantana urticoides (Lantana horrida)

Verbena Family, Verbenaceae

Perennial shrub

As a branching shrub 2–6-feet tall and wide with showy, long-blooming flowers, this plant graces gardens more than wild landscapes.

FLOWER: Dense, round clusters 1–2-inches wide have a combination of reddish-orange and yellow flowers. Flowers bloom from the outer edge of the cluster inward and change colors as they age so the cluster is multicolored. Clusters bloom in pairs on 1–3-inch stems from leaf axils. The small, tubular flowers, 1/4–3/8-inch wide, have 4 rounded lobes, one larger than the others.

LEAVES: Opposite leaves have 1–2 1/2-inch long oval to triangular blades with flat bases, pointed tips, and evenly toothed margins. Leaves are sandpaper rough and aromatic. Stems may have prickles.

BLOOM: April until frost.

RANGE: Sunny, dry, sandy, gravelly soils in South, Trans-Pecos, Central, East Texas.

SIMILAR SPECIES: The look-alike Large-leaf Lantana, L. camara, listed on the Texas Invasive Plants List, is widely naturalized. With red, yellow, and/or blue and white flowers and leaves reaching 4-inches long, it is popular in landscaping, but is not frost tolerant. Brushland Lantana, L. achyranthifolia, in South Texas and the Trans-Pecos, has oval to lance-shaped leaves and flowers that open white with a yellow throat and gradually change to violet so that the cluster is multicolored. Velvet Lantana, L. velutina, in the Rio Grande plains, reached 6-feet tall and wide with white turning pinkish flowers with a yellow throat and triangular, toothed leaves. The rare White-flowered Lantana, L. canescens, only in Hidalgo Co. in Texas, has white to pink flowers with a yellow throat on stems shorter or as long as the leaves.

NOTES: Hummingbirds and butterflies love the flowers, and birds devour the tight clusters of  black, 1/4-inch round fruit, which are poisonous to humans.


  1. Plant descriptions of more than 650 species

  2. 2,500 expandable photos

  3. Bloom and Range info

  4. 4–8 full-page photos of each plant highlighting flower and leaf details

  5. Notes on plant uses, adaptive strategies, ecological niches

  6. 1,078 pages

  7. Not scanned pages – All pages fully interactive, tap photos to enlarge


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