COLLEGE STATION – There’s more to Texas wildflowers than just roadside beauty:
Native Americans made tea from a Texas wildflower, plains coreopsis, to strengthen their blood.
When the bluebonnet was chosen to be the Texas state flower, the runners-up were the prickly pear cactus and the open cotton boll.
Gayfeather is also called snakeroot because part of it was once used to treat rattlesnake bites.
These are some of the little-known facts about wildflowers featured in “Texas Wildflowers,” an identification wheel produced by the Texas Agricultural Extension Service.
The wheel was created to help people identify and learn more about the flowers they see along Texas highways each year. It features photographs of 16 of the most common wildflowers in the state: black-eyed Susan, bluebonnet, coreopsis, Drummond phlox, gayfeather, Indian blanket, Indian paintbrush, lemon mint, Maximilian sunflower, mealy cup sage, Mexican hat, pink evening primrose, verbena, bluebell, standing cypress and wine cup.
To help gardeners trying to grow wildflowers, both the blossom and the seedling are pictured for each species.
The wheel also makes a perfect companion for those spring drives to see Texas wildflowers.
“Texas has a worldwide reputation for its wildflowers,” said Doug Welsh, Extension horticulturist. “The wildflower wheel will help Texans, new and old, identify and grow these Lone Star natives.”
The wheels cost $10.95 each and can be viewed on the Web and ordered at http://agpublications.tamu.edu/ or, for credit card orders, by calling toll-free (888) 900-2577.
The wheel also provides tips for growing wildflowers, including:
– Fall is the best time to plant wildflowers.
– Select a site that drains well and gets at least five hours of sunlight each day.
– Remove vegetation from the site.
– Rake or lightly till the soil surface to a depth of one inch.
– Thoroughly mix one part wildflower seed with four parts sand or potting soil.
– Scatter the seeds uniformly over the prepared area.
– Press the seed into the soil by walking over the area. Do not cover seed any deeper than 1/16 inch. Some seeds will remain visible, but they must be in firm contact with the soil to germinate.
– Most wildflowers do well without regular watering, but if there is a prolonged dry spell, give your wildflowers a drink.