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About Plants Collection

Pineywoods Plants Digital Gallery

The "Pineywoods" represent the forested eastern edge of Texas along with the the ecologically-similar forests of adjacent northwestern and central Louisiana. Markedly different from most of Texas, tall stands of pines and broad-leaved deciduous trees cover much of the gently rolling landscape. There is a rich variety of natural habitats: dry sandy upland pine-oak communities, remnants of once-extensive longleaf pine woodlands, pine-deciduous mixed forests, vast "bottomland hardwood" forests on the floodplains of the region's numerous rivers, baldcypress swamps, and much more. The climate is warm and humid; some areas experience as much as 50" (1270 mm) of rainfall a year. Timber, poultry, and ranching are some important local industries and much of the Pineywoods remains relatively free from urbanization. Public lands such as Kisatchie National Forest (Louisiana), the National Forests & Grasslands of Texas, and the Big Thicket National Preserve enable one to easily explore the rich and varied flora which includes more than 2100 species. In this gallery you will find pictures of native and naturalized vascular plants from this fascinating, and to many, little known, part of North America.

The gallery, a product of fifteen years of photographic field excursions, currently contains 9849photographs representing 1266 and 90 native and naturalized vascular plant and bryophyte  species respectively. This represents well over half of the total Pineywoods flora. Nearly all species that a causal observer is likely to encounter during a typical walk in the woods are represented along with most habitat-type indicator species.

For ferns, lycophytes, and gymnosperms, nomenclature and family circumscriptions follow Volume I of the Illustrated Flora of East Texas (Diggs et al. 2006).  Flowering plant family circumscriptions follow the Angiosperm Phylogeny Group (APG) system (APG 1998, 2003, 2009, 2016). Flowering plant species nomenclature largely follows the Flora of North America (FNA 1993+) series where possible and USDA PLANTS Database for groups not yet published in FNA. Bryophyte nomenclature follows the Bryoflora of North America website. Diggs et al. (1999) and Correl and Johnston (1979) were among the many additional sources consulted for taxonomy and species identification.

 

Pineywoods Ecosystems

These galleries explore the local ecosystem types of "Pineywoods"-the forested eastern edge of Texas and the the ecologically-similar forests of adjacent Louisiana. Markedly different from most of Texas, tall stands of trees cover much of the gently rolling landscape. There is a rich variety of natural habitats: Upland pine-oak communities, remnants of once-extensive longleaf pine woodlands, rich "mesic" deciduous forests on sheltered slopes and along small streams, and vast "bottomland hardwood" forests on the floodplains of the region's numerous rivers. The climate is warm and humid; some areas experience as much as 50" (1270 mm) of rainfall a year. Timber, poultry, oil and gas extraction and ranching are among the important local industries and much of the Pineywoodsremains relatively free from urbanization. Public lands such as Kisatchie National Forest (Louisiana), the National Forests & Grasslands of Texas, the Big Thicket National Preserve, and the Pineywoods Native Plant Centeron the campus of Stephen F. Austin State University in Nacogdochesenable one to easily explore the rich and varied natural environment.

These pages provide images of both local ecosystems and the plants typically found in them. They reflect the characteristic natural or near-natural (usually forested) plant assemblages which develop in an ecosystem over time in the absence of extensive human disturbance and only lightly touch on high-disturbance ecosystems.  However, vegetation in a location is a function of both natural environmental factors (soils, topography, and climate) and any management or disturbance a site has experienced; the plant communities on disturbed or heavily managed sites may be rather different from the "potential natural" communities described here.

The gallery is a "spin-off" from more than 14 years of research aimed at developing an ecological classification system (ECS) for National Forest lands in Texas and Louisiana (Van Kley et al 2007). ECS aims to classify forest lands into "ecological Units" on the basis of a given site's topographic features, soil properties, and potential natural vegetation. A summary of these ecological units appears in the introduction to the "Illustrated Flora of East Texas Volume I" (Diggs et al. 2006). Other literature describing Pineywoods habitats includes Marks and Harcombe (1981), Harcombe et al. (1983), Van Kley and Hine (1998), Van Kley 1999a, and Van Kley 1999b). Botanical nomenclature follows Diggs et al. (2006) for ferns, Lycophytes, gymnosperms, and monocots and Kartesz (1999) for all other vascular plants.

Our aim is to reconnect students, laymen, and professionals with the plants and ecosystems that form the foundation of both the ecology and economy of east Texas. We hope you enjoy this window into the natural world of this fascinating, and to many, little known, part of North America!

 

Trans-Pecos Plants

The "Trans-Pecos Mountains and Basins" region includes the westernmost parts of Texas. The polar opposite of the Pineywoods, the Trans-Pecos consists of dramatic, rugged terrain with desert valleys and wooded mountain slopes and summits. Mean annual precipitation ranges from less than 10 inches (25cm) in portions of the desert lowlands to as much as 20 inches (51cm) on the higher mountains. Elevation ranges from 2,500 feet (762m) to 8,749 feet (2,6667m) at the summit of Guadalupe Peak, Texas' highest mountain. The lowlands provide the largest extent of the Chihuahuan Desert in the United States (Correll & Johnston, 1979). The dramatic variation in topography, elevation and climate in the Trans-Pecos results in an equally varied array of plant communities including 'islands' of conifer forest in protected mountain canyons, juniper-pinyon woodlansd at high elevations, desert grasslands at mid elevations, and desert shrublands at low elevations.

This small gallery, representing some of the more commonly-encountered west Texas desert and mountain plants and wildflowers, is a product of several vacations at Guadalupe Mountain National Park and Big Bend National Park. Botanical nomenclature follows The Flora of North America (FNA 1993+) series where possible and the USDA PLANTS databasefor groups not yet published in FNA. Family circumscriptions generally follow the Angiosperm Phylogeny Group classification (APG 1998, 2003, 2009).  Correl and Johnston (1979), Evans, (1998), Loflin & loflin (2009), Morey, 2008, Powell, (2000), Powell, (1998), Powell et al. (2008), and West (2000) were additional sources consulted for taxonomy and species identification.

 

Texas Gulf Coast Plants

The coastal marshes, dunes, and beaches of the Texas coast form a narrow belt adjacent to the Gulf of Mexico. They represent the coastal edge of the Gulf Prairies and Marshes vegetation area of Texas (see Correll and Johnston, 1979). The landscape is low, flat, largely open, and marshy with numerous rivers and streams that form estuaries as they enter the Gulf of Mexico. Occasional low rises support populations of live oak and other trees. Most of the coast occurs along thin barrier islands and peninsulas that are separated from the mainland by a bay. Large areas of the coast have become urbanized as the result of vacation home development. The climate is humid and the northeastern reaches of the Texas coast, the part the gallery mainly covers, receives roughly 50 inches (127 cm) of rainfall annually although rainfall along the southwestern portion of the coast is substantially less.

This small gallery represents some of the plants commonly encountered on Texas beaches and in adjacent salt and brackish coastal marshes. Most of the photos are from Sea Rim State Park, Bolivar peninsula and Galveston Island. Botanical nomenclature follows The Flora of North America (FNA 1993+) series where possible and the USDA PLANTS database for groups not yet published in FNA. Family circumscriptions follow the Angiosperm Phylogeny Group classification (APG 1998, 2003, 2009). Diggs et al. (2006), Correl and Johnston (1979), and Jones 1975 were among the many additional sources consulted for taxonomy and species identification.

 

ASTC: The Herbarium of SFASU

The Stephen F. Austin State University herbarium (ASTC) with more than 79000 specimens is the 4th largest collection in Texas. In addition to housing specimens from throughout North America,  the collection represents nearly all of the nearly 2200 vascular plant species found in the eastern Texas Pineywoods. The collection's curator is Dr. James Van Kley. The herbarium plays a vital role in teaching and provides crucial plant identification support to our research in vegetation science. Professionals engaged in research may visit the herbarium by appointment. We also entertain loan requests and facilitate specimen exchanges with other herbaria.

 

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