AUSTIN (KXAN) — Parts of Central Texas are home to the Bracted Twistflower. It is found in sparse areas west of I-35 in places like Cedar Park and west Austin but its biggest concentration is in an area from Blanco west to Kerrville to around Garner State Park. It is at risk due to several factors, according to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.
There has been a marked decline in an area from the I-35 corridor housing Austin and San Antonio westward. As much as 1,600 acres in Bexar, Medina, Travis, and Uvalde Counties have been marked as a critical habit for the plant’s survival.
Bracted is a term used to describe a leaf from the axil from which a flower develops. Examples of flowers that are bracts include Dogwood and Poinsettias.
This annual blooms in the spring. It is a bright, lavender flower known for attracting bees for its nectar and pollen. It lives among other trees and shrubs like Ashe juniper and Texas mountain laurel. Seeds of the Bracted Twistflower can remain dormant in the soil for several years. The seeds develop into new plants in a five- to ten-year time span. The seeds will develop in an environment of favorable weather
The species is being threatened because of the ongoing land development that has affected Central Texas and the Hill County for several years. In addition, the aforementioned Ashe juniper is encroaching. It is being eaten by some of the wildlife that inhabits the same area.
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, in tandem with Austin and San Antonio, are monitoring the situation with the goal of recovery in the next few decades. The Wildlife Service says the two municipalities are showing good management of the land, something that must continue for the recovery.
The geographic areas being specifically managed for the protection and conservation of the species include 345 acres at Garner State Park, 714 acres on land managed by Austin’s Parks and Recreation Department, 513 acres on lands managed by San Antonio’s Parks and Recreation Department, and 23 acres on private land managed voluntarily.
A specific rule put in place because of the Endangered Species Act prohibits several factors that would lead to the bracted Twistflower’s possible demise if nothing were to be done. The conservation and preservation of the plant includes neither digging nor removing the plant. It can’t be cut or damaged. To do so would be a violation of Texas regulations.
This will be listed in the Federal Register, the daily journal of the United States government.
The Endangered Species Act was created in 1973 to “conserve and protect endangered and threatened species and their habitats both at home and abroad.”
Meanwhile, what is blooming in our state now? The latest bloom chart from the Lady Bird Johnson Wildlife shows Indian paint brushes, Pink evening primroses, and Horsemints are doing well now. The bloom chart can be found at https://www.wildflower.org/learn/bloom-chart