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4/23/2018 2:53 PM
 

Texas Wildflower Trip Report – Hondo to Lytle


Texas 173 near US 90, Hondo, Texas

Trip Date: 4/22/2018
Communities visited: Castroville, Hondo, Devine, Natalia, Lytle
Routes: US 90, Texas 173, I-35, FM 471, FM 2676
Total Miles traveled: 200+

Short Story

On Earth Day, 4/22/2018, I decided to take an afternoon drive looking for some wildflowers to photograph. I did not find what I was hoping to find, but I found what I was not expecting to find. Sometimes those serendipity finds are the best.  After looking at the rainfall data since December 1st, I decided to see what might be in bloom north and south of a line from San Antonio to Hondo.  The data seemed to be correct, more than my hope. I was hoping to find some fields of firewheels north of Hondo off Texas 173. The Google street view of this area in May 2016 showed what appear to be fields of firewheels in that area. The data was telling me this was probably not going to happen, since the October and November 2017 rainfall was well below average. Gaillardia pulchella (firewheel, Indian blanket) is an annual and most of our spring annuals will germinate in the fall months. I was hoping that the Gaillardia pulchella germinated later in December or early spring when that area received normal to above normal rainfall.  That apparently is not the case, as I saw no evidence of firewheels blooming anywhere beyond the fences.  I did find some along the roadside at more than one spot along Texas 173. I did however, find two really nice fields with mixed wildflowers. Details are below.

What worried me the most about my trip is seeing how the invasive forms of grass have literally taken over entire sections of I-35 and have now expanded into the adjacent fields. I have now learned we have several varieties of both cool season and warm season grasses that threaten our wildflowers. They appear to be as devastating or more than the bastard cabbage. More about this in a separate post.

Details

Texas 173 north of Hondo: About nine miles north of Hondo on Texas 173, there is a long section of the road with fairly good coverage of mixed wildflowers on either side of the road. The coverage is mainly long stretches of about 70 to 80 % density at times. One segment included a nice stand of mealy blue sage mixed in with Engelmann’s daisies.  Another segment had Engelmann’s daisies mixed with firewheels.

Texas 173 north of US 90: There is a very large field of what I think is some species of thelesperma (bitterweed). In front along the roadside is a mixture of other wildflowers, including what I believe is common yarrow (Achillea millefolium) and Engelmann’s salvia. (see image at top) NOTE: This is field is on private property! Do not enter the field without permission from the property owner. There is sufficient right of way access to pull over and photograph the field from the public road.
 
I-35 service road, Lytle: Along the northbound service road before Benton City Blvd, I found a really nice stretch of mixed wildflowers along with one large field of mixed wildflowers.  The dominant wildflower was some type of lazy daisy (Aphanostephus sp.), but I saw firewheels, prairie verbena, prairie phlox, prairie sunflowers, and lemon bee-balm.
NOTE: This is field is on private property! Do not enter the field without permission from the property owner. There is sufficient right of way access to pull over and photograph the field from the public road.

Conclusion:

It was a welcome surprise to see the two large fields on my trip, but I was also pleased to find the two spots with a variety of wildflowers in bloom. I am more hopeful now that we will have a good showing of May wildflowers here and there.

Next Trips: Waiting to see what pops up for May wildflowers. I will be posting a new update with notes on where the May wildflowers might make a good showing.

Check here in the Texas Wildflower Reports 2018 section, in our seasonal updates section (http://www.wildflowerhaven.com/Commun...4/scope/threads) and on our Texas Wildflower Report Facebook Page (https://www.facebook.com/TexasWildflowerReport/) for the latest reports.

For route maps with detailed notes do not forget our eBooks at: http://www.wildflowerhaven.com/eBooks

 
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