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On the west side of Ft. Worth lies a small natural area known by local botanist as the "Ridgmar Prairie". Just to the northeast of Ridgmar Mall, located at the intersection of Genoa Road and Green Oaks Drive, it has escaped commercial development to date. In the summer of 2001, a new species of Gayfeather was described as new to Texas by BRIT researchers Guy Nesom and Robert J. O'Kennon. Later named Early Flowering Gayfeather (Liatris aestivalis), it persists on chalky limestone outcrops and slopes, sometimes also on sandy hillsides. Many local wildflower enthusiasts and naturalists had observed this Gayfeather blooming earlier than usual, starting around the third week of June. It blooms earlier than our common Gayfeather (Liatris punctata var. mucronata).
Some of the common grasses: Big Bluestem (Andropogon gerardii), Bushy Bluestem (Andropogon glomeratus), Sideoats Grama (Bouteloua curtipendula), Hairy Grama (Bouteloua hirsuta), Switch Grass (Panicum virgatum), and Little Bluestem (Schizachyrium scoparium).
Some of the common shrubs and wildflowers: Square Bud Primrose (Calylophus berlandieri), New Jersey Tea (Ceanothus herbaceous), Plains Coreopsis (Coreopsis tinctoria), Hall's Dalea (Dalea hallii), Escarpment Prairie Clover (Dalea tenuis), Roundhead Prairie Clover (Dalea multiflora), Barbara's Buttons (Marshallia caespitosa), Missouri Primrose (Oenothera macrocarpa), White Milkwort (Polygala alba), Texas Sage (Salvia texana), White Compass Plant (Silphium albiflorum), Four Nerve Daisy (Tetraneuris scaposa), Arkansas Yucca (Yucca arkansana), and Pale Leaf Yucca (Yucca pallida).
In the fall of 2001, two new species of Gayfeathers (Liatris) were officially described by BRIT researchers Guy Nesom and Robert J. O'Kennon. Liatris aestivalis is a recently found native of the Grand Prairie and Cross Timbers eco region of North Central Texas, known from approximately 13 Texas counties. A number of natural areas in Tarrant county contain Liatris aestivalis - Stella Rowan Prairie, Fort Worth Nature Center, Tandy Hills Park, Lake Mineral Wells State Park, Lake Weatherford, LBJ National Grasslands, and various other natural areas.
Liatris glandulosa is a recently found native of the Blackland Prairie eco region found on the Austin Chalk formation, found in approximately 4 Texas counties. It can be found at Spring Creek Forest Preserve in Dallas County and Breckinridge Park in Collin County.
Our common variety of Gayfeather (Liatris mucronata) is abundant, and for many years botanists, researchers, and local wildflower enthusiasts noticed early flowering plants of Liatris mucronata, sometimes flowering as early as June. The typical flowering period for L. mucronata is September through November. Even early researchers since the 1950's noticed early flowering forms of L. mucronata, but no consensus on it being a new Texas species was discovered until 2001.
L. aestivalis is closely related to L. mucronata. L. aestivalis blooms earlier in the season than L. mucronata, typically beginning around the middle to end of June. Habitat is also different for L. aestivalis, occurring on sites with shallow soil over outcrops of Glen Rose limestone, on slopes or on flatter areas at the base of slopes. L. mucronata typically begins to flower around mid September, with a range of habitats.
While examining the collections of Liatris mucronata, a small number of specimens examined were found to have a glandular pubescence. The leaves, stems, and phyllaries were covered with imbedded clear-resinous glands, with the whole plant being sticky to the touch. These plants labeled L. mucronata were later officially described as new to Texas - Liatris glandulosa.
Liatris glandulosa grows on the Austin Chalk formation in the Blackland Prairie, and is known locally from Collin and Dallas counties. It has also been found in Bosque, McLennan, and Travis counties to the south of the metroplex. It can be found blooming on dry rocky outcrops, blooming from Late July to early September.
The press release, photos, and illustrations of Liatris aestivalis and Liatris glandulosa can be seen on the BRIT website at http://www.brit.org/ by clicking on "newsroom". You will need Quicktime to view the illustrations. It can be downloaded for free from http://www.apple.com/quicktime/.