Contact Information

Texas Parks and Wildlife Department
Wildlife Division
Wildscapes
4200 Smith School Road
Austin, TX 78744

mark.klym@tpwd.texas.gov

 

Plant Guidance by Ecoregions

Ecoregion 6 – South Texas Brush Country

East of the Rio Grande River and south of the Balcones Escarpment lies a relatively unpopulated region known as the South Texas Brush Country. An average annual temperature of 73 degrees and rainfall ranging from 16 inches in the west to 30 inches in the east characterize the region. This warm region is a land of recurring drought, a factor that distinctly marks the landscape. Sporadic rains can cause wildflower blooms almost anytime of the year.

This region owes its diversity to converging elements of the Chihuahuan Desert to the west, the Tamaulipan thornscrub and subtropical woodlands along the Rio Grande and the coastal grasslands to the east. The region is cut by arroyos and streams and is blanketed with low-growing mostly thorny vegetation. Where conditions allow, a dense understory of small trees and shrubs will develop. The distinctive woody vegetation gives rise to the name “brush country”.

The only subtropical area in Texas is the distinctive Rio Grande Valley Region of the South Texas Plains. Comprising Cameron, Willacy, Hidalgo and Starr counties, it once supported majestic groves of Texas Palmetto, Montezuma cypress and ebony-anaqua woodlands. Today, most of the region has been bulldozed, plowed or otherwise fallen victim to urbanization. The once extensive groves of Sabal palm that once flourished here are now reduced to a few stands in or near Brownsville.

The extensive history of land use in the Rio Grande Plain has not prevented the area from harboring many rare species of both animal and plant. It is here that we can find a few remaining wild tropical cats like ocelots and jaguarundis. Ferruginous Pygmy-owl, Green jay, Elf Owl, Texas totoise, Indigo snake and Mexican burrowing toad are also found in this region. Rare plants, especially in the cactus family like Albert’s black lace cactus, star cactus and Runyons cory cactus are among a surprising number of plants that occur in the region.

Plants for the South Texas Brush Country

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