Hiking,  Native Plants,  Outdoors,  Texas,  Travel & Places,  Wildflowers

Swooning Over Plants at Gus Engeling WMA – June 2023

I don’t know if I can express how much I love Gus Engeling WMA. I wish I lived closer to it, though perhaps it wouldn’t be as special? Nah, I think it would and I would probably know its ins and outs a little better. I’m constantly drawn back to thinking about south Florida and how “close” everything was, how driveable within a 1-3 hours a place could be, most places in the 1-2 hr range and many within the 1 hr or less range. Feel like going to the Keys for a long day? Done. More in the mood for interior slow moving creeks and rivers? Done. Dwarf cypress and orchids more your speed? Easily obtainable. Sure, places like the rolling hills of Ocala National Forest or the bogs of Apalachicola were further away but even if you lived up there you could easily just replace the previous options I gave and put in a slew of others! In Texas, it is a lot harder to come by. All of the public lands are spread out and of course, Texas is a massive state. So far we’ve tied our trips to GE WMA with trips to DFW to pick up or drop off Forest for grandparent weekends in the summer. And we really need to modify our summer trips to spring and fall trips because boy, summer out there is brutal! I would love to walk further back into the park than we have because the heat makes it miserable during summer.

Like usual, photos first, more writing at the end.


First up, Texas Sandmint, Rhododon ciliatus. This plant is divine! You can find it scattered on the Carrizo-Wilcox ridge from San Antonio to GE WMA with a few sites in NE Houston (maybe the Lake Houston Wilderness Park?)


During this June trip I was really out there to see Smooth Jewelflower, Streptanthus hyacinthoides. This mustard family relative is heavily featured at GE WMA and a few other sites in East Texas and then disjunct down in SE Texas around Kountze (deep sand!).

Fourpoint Evening Primrose, Oenothera rhombipetala.


Butterflyweed, Asclepias tuberosa interior. I watched this plant for a while because ants were crawling all over it for nectar!

Purple Pleatleaf, Alophia drummondii

Georgia Frostweed, Crocanthemum georgianum

Trailing Rhatanay, Krameria lanceolata

Pickering’s Dawnflower, Stylisma pickeringii

Variegated fritillary, Euptoieta claudia

Rattlesnake flower, Brazoria truncata

Velvet-leaf milkweed, Asclepias tomentosa. This is one of those weird, very disjunct species that sometimes happens here in Texas. There’s a population of this milkweed at GE WMA and a few other sites in NE Texas and then….nothing…until you get to Florida or Georgia. The botanists I follow on IG seem to think this is probably a different species but no one has done any genetic work on it to verify.

Clasping milkweed, Asclepias amplexicaulis with seedpods. I’ve been trying to see this one in flower for forever so seedpods were the next best thing. Someday…flowers.


Silky prairie clover, Dalea villosa

Texas greeneyes, Berlandiera betonicifolia


More velvet-leaf milkweed

More streptanthus! (swoon)

More prairie clover (more swooning!)

Lanceleaf blanketflower, Gaillardia aestivalis

We missed the peak blooming for scarlet beardtongue, Penstemon murrayanus. I think we need to bump up a trip there by a month this year.

Red milkweed, Asclepias rubra

Xanthotype sp. hiding in the vegetation in a creek area


I was also very excited to see these, too, featherbells, Stenanthium gramineum! I saw them again in Louisiana a week later—still so gorgeous!


Scarlet beardtongue in seed.


Sand milkweed, Asclepias arenaria

Sometimes when I write these posts up I know it gets redundant and not very elaborative to say “I was so excited” or “Swoon” or “I love this plant” but really, that’s what I feel when I am at these places. I LOVE THESE PLANTS! They really are so cool and just a delight to be able to even get to see them. It saddens me to know most people have no idea just what is out there to explore and see, what plants exist and what we’ve lost. It’s hard to even write it out or try to comprehend it, though I try. I mostly just want to look at cool plants, appreciate their beauty, and see what other life is also appreciating their existence. Plants mean wildlife of all forms and that is a delight in and of itself, too.

I think Lady Bird Johnson sums it up:

“For me, wildflowers are joy-giving. They have enriched my life and fed my soul and given beautiful memories to sustain me.”

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