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Flora Fact: On the Escarpment

This fall bloomer bears the name of the “Father of Texas Botany.”

By Jason Singhurst

In 1844, Ferdinand Jacob Lindheimer (1801–1879) settled in New Braunfels and was granted land on the banks of the Comal River, where he collected plants and attempted to establish a botanical garden.

His Comal Street home is now a museum to honor his work discovering hundreds of plant species. One of the many plants he discovered is Lindheimer’s crownbeard, collected for the very first time in 1847 in Comal County.

This showy, yellow-flowered (sometimes white) herbaceous perennial is a narrow-range endemic plant that primarily follows the Balcones Escarpment of Central Texas. Lindheimer’s crownbeard is commonly observed in dry, rocky, calcareous soil in openings on steep, wooded slopes and uplands, and is often associated with plateau live oak, Ashe juniper, lacey oak, bigtooth maple, Arizona walnut, Virginia frostweed, red buckeye, Lindheimer’s silktassel and deciduous holly.

flower

Lindheimer’s crownbeard is related to the fall-blooming frostweed; however, it lacks wings on the stems and its harshly scabrous (rough) leaves distinguish it from all other species in the genus Verbesina in Texas. It can bloom as early as May, but it primarily blooms in the fall, from September through November.

Lindheimer’s crownbeard is a drought-tolerant plant, so it works well in native landscaping. This plant is also attractive to bees, butterflies, many other insects and birds. Lindheimer’s crownbeard is visited by migrating monarch butterflies in the fall, primarily in early to mid-October.

There are a number of public places where you can observe this showy fall blooming plant: Balcones Canyonlands National Wildlife Refuge, Bright Leaf Preserve, Garner State Park, Hamilton Pool Preserve, Hill Country State Natural Area, Lost Maples State Natural Area, Old Tunnel State Park and Austin’s Mount Bonnell.

Lindheimer’s crownbeard is a showy wildflower that’s worth searching for if you live in or happen to be traveling through Central Texas this fall. With a little botanical investigation, Lindheimer’s crownbeard will reward you with its beauty, diversity of pollinators and history linked to Texas’ father of botany.

Common Name
Lindheimer’s crownbeard

Scientific Name
Verbesina lindheimeri

Size
15-30 inches tall

Did you know?
More than 45 species and subspecies of plants have been named after Ferdinand Lindheimer, the “Father of Texas Botany.”

 

 

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