NPR logo Gone Tomorrow: Don't Mess With Texas Wildflowers

Gone Tomorrow: Don't Mess With Texas Wildflowers

Poppy mallow. W.D and Dolphia Bransford/Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center hide caption

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W.D and Dolphia Bransford/Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center

Poppy mallow.

W.D and Dolphia Bransford/Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center

For variegated reasons – urban sprawl, large-scale farming, invasive plants and human thoughtlessness – wildflowers in America are vanishing.

Which is a shame.

In Texas, for instance, bloomspotting in the vast expanse of the Lone Starscape can be like birdwatching. Amid the dun and dust of desert and field, flora can surprise, delight, astonish.

Texas is a gargantuan state that highlights its hugeness, and smallness can get lost in spaciousness. But occasionally largeness can lead to largess. And protectiveness. Some of the state's wee wildflowers, like the poppy mallow

Tobusch fishhook cactus Joseph A. Marcus/Joseph A. Marcus, Yokabachi Ikon hide caption

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Joseph A. Marcus/Joseph A. Marcus, Yokabachi Ikon

Tobusch fishhook cactus

Joseph A. Marcus/Joseph A. Marcus, Yokabachi Ikon

and the Tobusch fishhook cactus are disappearing. So the folks at the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center at The University of Texas at Austin are scrambling to track down the little beauties and preserve them.

The Center's Barbra Rodriguez says that nearly two-dozen Texas plants are endangered and more than a dozen known native-to-Texas species have already gone extinct.

The poppy-mallow and fishhook cactus, Barbra says, "are among the rare and endangered Texas plants we've taken on site for reintroduction into Texas landscapes."

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While constantly boasting about its bigness, Texas also values – at least in this case – pretty little lovely things.

What is The Protojournalist? New-school storytelling, old-school reporting. @NPRtpj