Native Texas ornamental grasses worth checking out

native Texas grasses

A demonstration plot of native ornamental grasses is located at San Juan Park near McAllen. (Photo by Rod Santa Ana)

Couldn’t resist sharing a link to an Ag N More story out this week on researchers promoting native Texas grasses for urban landscape use.  Why write about native grasses in a site devoted to insects?  Because native insects and plants are intimately related and because planting native plants ultimately helps preserve biodiversity at all levels, from insect life to song birds.

I say kudos to Barbara Storz, AgriLife Extension agent in Hidalgo County, and her colleagues working at the San Juan Park near McAllen.  They are promoting improved selections of 17 native grasses for use by urban landscapers.  Many people don’t understand that many of the ornamental and forage grasses promoted in recent years are exotics.  These exotic grasses often sport attractive features like resistance to pests and dense growth, but they are not wildlife-friendly.  Others become pests when they invade native habitats and displace our less competitive native plants.

One of the best things we can do to preserve our Texas wildlife heritage, including native insects, is considering planting a native landscape.  To learn more about south Texas grass conservation, visit the south Texas Natives site at the Ceasar Kleberg Wildlife Research Institute.  To learn how to convert your yard to native plants, see the Go Native page at the website.

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