Bird Migration: Redefining Reality

Written by: Mary Humes, Field Investigation Teacher

Migration … the movement of billions of birds, navigating vast distances across the Earth through varied and challenging climates and terrain and seemingly limitless ocean expanses, negotiating headwinds, weather extremes, human-made structures, and the constant threats of starvation, dehydration, predation, and exhaustion, (mating, reproducing, raising offspring) and then, doing it all over again in reverse … is a triumph of survival that is one of the most miraculous events on planet Earth. And we get to witness it, twice a year, every year! Science has recently begun to unlock some of the survival secrets that birds employ during their long, perilous journeys, and we are learning that the challenges of migration cause some bird species to redefine previously thought physiological limits. Here are a few examples of migratory birds’ gritty, gutsy efforts to endure their epic expeditions:

Fast Fasting: Flying 55 miles per hour for 11 straight days without sleep, food, or water, the Bar-tailed Godwit covers the distance from one end of the Earth to the other, flying almost 8000 miles from Alaska to New Zealand, the longest non-stop flight of any bird. To prepare for this migratory marathon, this bird first packs on a lot of fat and then, incredibly, consumes part of its own liver and digestive tract and shuts down its kidneys. Advantageous weight reduction
is the reason for the curiously unnatural act of consuming its own organs … after all, it’s not going to need them during its long flight.

A Brain Break: The Swainson’s Thrush has half a mind to take on its 3000-mile trip from South America to Alaska … literally. One of several tactics this bird uses to accomplish its mind-blowing marathon is to alternate putting each half of its brain to sleep in nine-second intervals while the other half continues functioning to avoid predators and mid-air collisions.

Packing Its Carry-on Like a Pro: To prepare for its 24-hour non-stop 2000-mile journey across the Gulf of Mexico, the Ruby-throated Hummingbird can double its body weight in a matter of days. With one of the fastest metabolisms of any animal (the human equivalent of 150,000 calories a day), it will burn all that fat and some lean body mass too, arriving at its final destination as little more than a feathered skeleton.

So the next fall or spring when you see one of those V-shaped arrangements of geese streaking across the sky, look up in awe, amazement, and appreciation for the marvelous miracle that is migration.


Water Sustainability

Written by: Scott Matula, Naturalist

When we think of water in most cases, we are reminded of the lines from The Rhyme of the Ancient Mariner in which the mariner himself speaks, “Water, water, everywhere but not a drop to drink.” This is spoken because of his predicament of being stalled in the middle of the sea with no winds to push he and his ragged companions forth through the endless blue. Parched beyond belief as they set beneath the burning sun, all of their fresh water exhausted. Nothing left but the deep blue salinity that surrounds and traps them. How far are we from this predicament?

About 71% of the Earth’s surface is water. The oceans hold about 96.5% of all Earth’s water. Water also exists in water vapor, lakes, rivers, ice caps, glaciers, in the ground as soil moisture, and in aquifers far beneath our feet. About 97% of all the water on earth is in the oceans and thus it is too salty to drink. That leaves us with 3%. Of that 3%, 2.5% is unavailable because it is locked up in glaciers, polar ice caps, soils, vapor in the air, sits too far below the Earth’s surface to reach, or is polluted. Only .5% of the Earth’s water is drinkable fresh water. If we were to look at all of the world’s water as 100 liters, our fresh water supply would be about 0.003 liter (about one-half table spoon) would be usable.

If we look at just the United States, about 8% is used domestically; drinking, cooking, washing, watering lawns, etc. 33% is used agriculturally, for crops, and livestock. Over 600 gallons per day per person in the U.S. is being diverted from natural aquatic sources for farm irrigation and livestock use. And over half the people in the US are getting their water from these same natural underground sources.

We as individuals can help curtail this use of water by doing what we can to not waste it. Turn off the faucets when brushing your teeth or shaving. Make those long showers an occasional luxury. Put in low-flow toilets. Begin watching the amounts you use for cooking. How much goes down the drain? Wash dishes by hand instead of the dish washer. Make sure your loads of clothes are full and remember, sometimes you don’t even need to wash some things every time you wear them.

Look for and repair leaks. A small leak can waste thousands of gallons of water a year. Your lawn usually needs far less water than what you put on it. We use about a third more water in the summer because we water our lawns. There are about ten million acres of lawns in the US which require 270 billion gallons of water every week. That’s enough water to give every person on earth a shower four days in a row. Install a timer and set it not to run every day and skip those precious days of rain. Most lawns only require about an inch of water a week anyway. Don’t let me leave out washing our cars. We all like a shiny car but does it really need to be washed every week? 

There are places on earth where water is same the word as blood. Simply because water is the lifeblood of everything on the planet. The first thing we look for on another planet to find possible life is water.

Don’t look at water as a resource, look at it as a source. The source of all life.

Honoring Women in Nature

Written by: Mollie Ripple

This March for Women’s History Month, River Legacy Nature Center would like to honor a few women who have made a lasting impact on the natural world that continues to influence environmental efforts today. 

Vandana Shiva is an eco-feminist who founded Navdanya, a research institute that works to maintain biodiversity and advocate for the rights of farmers in her country of India. Due to her activism against GMO use, she is known as the Gandhi of grain. She has written 20 books and earned countless awards including the Earth Day International Award. Environmental activists like Vandana Shiva keep our world protected and restored.

Rachel Carson sparked the Environmental Revolution with her book, Silent Spring, where she highlights the harmful effects that humans have on the natural world, specifically through the use of chemicals that damage the ecosystem and its inhabitants. She tasks humans to be stewards of the environment and her efforts eventually led to the establishment of the Environmental Protection Agency in the United States which functions to reduce contamination, increase environmental education and protect the health of both humans and nature. Our Earth is a healthier, cleaner place because of Rachel Carson.

Dr. Jane Goodall spent years doing field research on chimpanzees and has altered the way humans connect with animals. In 1977, she founded the Jane Goodall Institute, which continues to model her research across the globe. Its mission states: “By protecting chimpanzees and inspiring people to conserve the natural world we all share, we improve the lives of people, animals, and the environment. Everything is connected—everyone can make a difference.” Jane continues to share her message of environmental stewardship and particularly encourages young people to be active participants in saving our planet. We know so much more about how to relate to and care for our Earth’s animals thanks to the extensive efforts of Jane Goodall.

Wangari Maathai was a Kenyan political activist who was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 2004 for her peaceful, democratic, and sustainable efforts toward conservation. She founded the Green Belt movement which empowers women and advocates for land conservation. One of the biggest ways this organization acts to combat deforestation is through the planting of more than 50 million trees. Wangari Maathai’s legacy can be seen in the cleaner air, improved food security, decrease in poverty, and increased social justice in the country of Kenya.

With their efforts to conserve land and combat deforestation, maintain biodiversity, reduce contamination, produce research, and increase environmental education, these women have made great strides in the field of science that future generations can continue to look to in their endeavors to steward the natural world around them. 


Written by: Sherrie Ripple, Director of Education

For over 20 years education has focused on STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math). It’s a comprehensive approach to broaden STEM literacy and participation. Project based work has been the focus to solve real world problems. 

More recently, Art was added to make STEAM. This multidisciplinary approach kept all the elements of STEM but allowed learners to be more creative. Also, the argument has been made that STEM created an entirely new line of arts with virtual reality, augmented reality and even gaming. 

Even more recently, a new acronym has surfaced, STREAM, which adds another layer to STEM and STEAM, by adding Reading and wRiting (or for some even religion). STREAM is about giving kids the freedom to think creatively, to experiment and to construct things on their own in a more holistic approach. To Dr. Azi Jamalian, head of education strategies at littleBits, STREAM has the potential to be more approachable and inclusive than STEM. “Incorporating design, art, and reading into STEM is a way for anyone, regardless of their technical ability, to be exposed to STREAM in a highly impactful and engaging way,” she says. “It should be accessible to everyone no matter what their background, gender, or comfort level with technology is.”

Nobel laureate and physicist William D. Phillips said, “I enjoyed and profited from well-taught science and math classes, but in retrospect, I can see that the classes that emphasized language and writing skills were just as important for the development of my scientific career as were science and math. I certainly feel that my high school involvement in debating competitions helped me later to give better scientific talks, that the classes in writing style helped me to write better papers.”

Educators often find STREAM a more well-rounded type of curriculum approach, encompassing a wider range of study opportunities for students. The update from STEM to STREAM has been important as educators believe that this will actively promote collaboration, communication, creativity, and critical thinking skills. After all, in most any kind of job, it is beneficial to be well-read and a wordsmith. 

While there are many different approaches to education, students in River Legacy’s environmental education programs benefit from experiential learning in science and nature-based curriculums which are enhanced by music, art and literacy. Our key initiative is to educate the next generation of environmental stewards using the resources of River Legacy Park and River Legacy Nature Center which is accomplished through balanced curriculums incorporating all three science-based curricula approaches with an end goal of a better tomorrow for all of us.

Birds Come in Many Different Colors… How Come?

Written by: Jorge Garcia, Naturalist

One of the most fascinating things about our feathery friends, the birds, is the stunning and beautiful colors some of them display. For example, let’s take a look at two River Legacy species – the painted bunting (Passerina ciris) (Figure 2), which is here in the summer months, and the northern cardinal (Cardinalis cardinalis) (Figure 1), which graces us with its beauty all year long. Male painted buntings have an array of different shades of red, blue, and green while male
northern cardinals sport a very bright red that makes them relatively easy to spot if you’re birding at River Legacy. It is typically the males that have these bright colors though that is not always the case.

Figure 1. Male northern cardinal (Cardinalis cardinalis)

Figure 2. Male painted bunting (Passerina ciris)

Scientists have researched the science of bird coloration for years and we will delve a bit into that today. The reason why feather colors are as diverse as they are is because of the presence of organic pigments found inside the feather cells. These are chemicals found at the nanometer scale and they absorb the energy of certain wavelengths of light and reflect the wavelengths corresponding to the colors that we see. Bird feathers contain 4 major classes of pigments: melanins, carotenoids, psitacofulvins, and porphyrins. Melanins are responsible for grays, blacks, browns, and similar colors. Carotenoids produce bright yellow, orange, red, and purple colors.

sittacofulvins are responsible for the yellow, orange, and red feather colors but only in parrots (order Psittaciformes). Porphyrins produce bright, olive green, and magenta colors in the turacos (order Musophagiformes)-a bird order native to sub-Saharan Africa-and other groups of birds. A possibility exists that another class of pigments, the pterins, exist in penguins (order Sphenisciformes) but scientists are still trying to confirm that! The diversity of structural colors that we see in the birds around us comes about because of physical, optical interactions between these pigments and light.

There are two types of melanin – eumelanin which gives black and gray colors and pheomelanin that gives red brown, rufous, and tan colors. Here is a cool fact about these two types of melanin: they are the ones responsible for hair color in humans (Homo sapiens)! Research has shown that melanins also help a feather’s resistance to degradation by keratin-eating bacteria. This is likely one of the reasons why birds in wetter climates (where more bacteria are found)
tend to be darker in coloration than birds in drier climates.

Carotenoids come originally from plants and birds obtain them through their diet. These pigments play a significant role in the colors of the iconic, aforementioned species, the northern cardinal and the painted bunting. 39 carotenoids in birds have been identified and the more common ones are -carotene, lutein, and zeaxanthin. Another interesting thing about carotenoids is the fact that the colors they produce can also be influenced by the way in which the molecules are bound inside the feather. There are situations where the same carotenoid produces a red color in one species versus purple in another species due to this.

Psittacofulvins are exclusively found in parrots. The reason why parrots evolved the usage of these exclusive pigments is currently poorly understood. Porphyrins are pigments related to hemoglobin, found within our cells, and chlorophyll, found within plants and a few other organisms. Turacos predominantly use these pigments, but they have been found in at least 13 orders of birds, including one order that has River Legacy representatives – the owls.

Scientists have come up with many explanations as to the reason behind these pigments being present on birds and producing the colors we see. It is possible that a brighter color indicates that a particular bird is healthier. This could become important when females are selecting a mate. A brighter red hue in either a male northern cardinal or a male house finch (Haemorhous mexicanus)-a River Legacy species all-year round-(Figure 3) could be an indicator of fitness of a male for a nearby female.

Though this has been a thorough dive into the chemicals responsible for bird colors, it is far from the complete story. Some birds also have iridescence, which is a change in color depending on the angle of observation. Some birds have been shown to exhibit ultra-violet colors, which are not visible to the naked eye.

Figure 3. Male house finch (Haemorhous mexicanus)

If you want to see some of the birds mentioned in this article and other species with different colors, we invite you to come over and participate in the 2024 Great Backyard Bird Count at River Legacy on Saturday, February 17th, 2024 from 10 A.M. to 2 P.M. There will be different stations around the Nature Center where you can become a citizen scientist, by partaking in birdwatching and bird-counting. These will be manned by professional birders who can help you identify what you are seeing! In addition, there will be other activities, including kid-friendly activities, that we will have to celebrate the avian world! The bird wall of diversity will be a cool feature where you can see the different colors of birds from all the living bird orders. When you are standing there looking at it, you will now know the scientific mechanism as to how those colors are being produced!

Gill, F.B. & Prum, R.O. (2019). Ornithology. 4 th edition. W. H. Freeman and Company.

Tree Talks

Written By: Mollie Ripple

It’s common to see trees and think they are independent lifeforms, connected only by proximity in a park or forest. But this may not actually be true! Some scientists believe that trees are collective, interdependent beings and that they can communicate with fellow trees for resource sharing and protection. 

Far below the plentiful green leaves, stretching branches and tall trunks emerging from the forest floor, there may exist an expansive network of fungus working tirelessly to keep the trees nourished and safe. More technically known as a mycorrhizal network, this fungus could allow trees to share water and nutrients and to communicate with one another. What would a tree need to communicate to its neighbor, you might wonder? Many things! 

  • If one tree is being attacked by an insect, like oakworms on an oak tree or leaf-eating caterpillars on an elm, it would begin to fill its leaves with chemicals as a protectant. Then, it could alert surrounding trees to do the same, so it’s more difficult for insects to harm it. 
  • Trees could share their absorbed water with others during a drought, so as to maintain the health of the forest as a whole. 
  • Sap could be sent to the damaged areas of a tree when it is cut down due to its antiseptic, healing properties. 
  • When a new seedling emerges, it could connect to the larger network of established trees headed by a “mother” tree, and they could send it water and nutrients to spur its growth. 

Fungus is believed to be helpful, or even necessary, to the survival of forests, but what might be fueling the fungus? Well, trees utilize carbon dioxide and water to create sugars through photosynthesis. The fungus in these mycorrhizal networks uses a percentage of this sugar as energy to seek out the nutrients that it can disperse to the trees. Therefore, the fungus and trees would have a mutualistic relationship, both benefiting and surviving because of the other. 

The work of each tree and the underground network of fungus below it go to show that, much like humans, communication, support and shared resources from the community may assist trees to survive and thrive. The River Legacy Nature Center is one such resource bringing together STEM education, walkable trails, and native animals for the benefit of the members of Arlington and surrounding communities! 

This River, Our River, Trinity River

Written by: Chad Etheridge, Naturalist

  This river, our river, drew us in, settled us down, aided in our quest for survival, and provided a firm foundation upon which generation after generation would build, expand, and prosper.  This river has been a force to be reckoned with; an aspect of nature that could rise up with aggressive power, and yet still meekly provide for those who chose to live near it in an otherwise hostile and somewhat uninhabitable area of North Texas.  This river, our river, the Trinity River has a wide and varied history which is largely unknown to those of us that live within its watershed and it will most certainly play an integral role in shaping how we adapt to the future.

     The importance of the Trinity River from both a natural and a cultural aspect cannot be ignored.  The approximately 18,000 square miles and all or part of 38 counties that are encompassed within its watershed comprise an immense area that supports an abundance of wildlife.  Everything from the tiny Western mosquitofish to the mighty American alligator swim in its waters.  Thousands of species of mammals, reptiles, and amphibians call the riparian zones along the four forks of the river home.  Approximately 400 different bird species utilize the airspace over the Trinity river in their annual migrations along the Central flyway.  Peering down from above they can clearly see the river as it meanders its way south carrying and eventually discharging just under 6-million-acre feet of water into the Gulf of Mexico. Along the way our river traverses many different physiographic areas.  It heads in the Cross Timbers, Grand Prairie, and Blackland Belt, flows through the Post Oak Belt and Piney Woods, and then continues through the Coastal plains on its way to the Gulf where it empties into Trinity Bay northeast of Galveston. 

     Of course a river of this size must pass through a lot of humanity.  In North Texas alone it is surrounded by over 7 million people and it eventually skirts the east side of the Houston metropolitan area, the largest city in the state.  It is no coincidence that our river runs among such inhabited areas.  The founding of both Dallas and Fort Worth occurred because of the Trinity River.  There were no natural lakes and very few springs to provide for any kind of settlement.  Our river provided easy and reliable access to water and today it is the thread connecting 22 reservoirs that hold billions of gallons of life-giving water. Traversing Texas basically from north to south, our river is the longest river entirely within the state.  As you can see, I use the term “our river” a lot when referring to the Trinity.  This is because the Trinity is unique in so many ways.  It is the only river in North Texas that has spurred development of such immensely populated areas which in turn have drawn in vast business ventures, industrial operations, and recreational opportunities.  It nourishes our insatiable need for water.  It is the lifeblood of our megalopolis.  The Trinity River is the watery web that holds this entire area of 7 million plus people together.  Because of its uniqueness it must be preserved.  It is as simple as not polluting our waterway.  You can join a river cleanup, donate to conservation groups that protect rivers, or simply spread the word that our river is important and necessary. We must always remember the past of our river, live in the present of our river, and protect the future of our river for generations to come.  This river, the Trinity River, our river.

If you want to learn more about the Trinity River or the wonderful resource that is water, visit our next free community festival… WATER Festival! September 9th from 10am-2pm.


Written by: Whitney Campbell / Volunteer Coordinator

When I first started working at River Legacy as the Volunteer Coordinator, I admit, I had absolutely no clue what ligustrum (privet) was. Fast forward to today… I know exactly what privet is and I do not like it one bit. Privet is a terribly invasive, non-native species of plant that grows at an astounding rate, adapts easily, is resistant to disease, and will take over and kill non-invasive, native plant life that is beneficial to the ecosystem- and all that our ecosystem encompasses. 

There are several different types of ligustrum species sold at nurseries (as well as at big-box retail stores like Home Depot), which should be avoided. These species of ligustrum were all introduced to North America from other continents and all of them look fairly similar to each other but have different common names which I will cover within this article.

According to the USDA, Chinese Privet (l. sinense) is one of the worst invasive species in the South. It thrives in the warm climate of the Southeast and has completely taken over many of the wooded areas in that region.

Chinese Privet was introduced in the US from Asia in the 1800s and escaped cultivation by the 1930s, continuing to spread over the past nearly 100 years. According to, it is the primary cause of biodiversity loss along streams in the Southeast. Chinese Privet can also grow just about anywhere- in the sun, in the shade, in wet soil, in dry soil, in the city, in the country- you name it. Adding to the problem and complexity of privet is the fact that, if not removed properly, and on a regular basis, it will rebound, regrow and continue to ‘bully’ nature preserves and urban areas by taking over and consuming the land with its thickets, thus causing wildlife and bird populations to decline. Privet also matures early and produces abundant seeds and rhizomes which spread rapidly. As a result, privet forms monocultures, displacing native plant species that wildlife depends on, and for centuries has always depended on, for food and shelter. USDA rates the privet berries’ food value to wildlife as low. It’s been referred to as “popcorn for birds”, whereas native shrubs and trees such as cherry laurel, beautyberry, coralberry, and possumhaw vastly produce berries that are healthy and beneficial for wildlife. 

Privet is also very deceiving, as it is not as unsightly, as one might think. To the untrained eye, privet appears to be a pretty, glossy, flowery plant- but make no mistake, it is NOT a friendly plant species in the least, rather it is an enemy… an invasive monster that knows no bounds.

Other types of privet include:

  • Ligustrum japonicum (Japanese Privet- aka: “Wax Leaf Ligustrum”) – looks similar to Chinese Privet, but it has larger, thicker leaves.
  • Ligustrum lucidum (Glossy Privet) – can grow up to 50 feet tall.
  • Ligustrum vulgare (European Privet) – Native to Europe and Northern Africa, this species of privet , also known as “Common Privet” is taking over forests of the Northeastern United States.

Spot privet on your property? Take these steps to remove it ASAP:

  1. If the plant is small, dig it out. The best thing you can do is get to the ligustrum seedlings before they grow larger. Dig them out, removing all the roots.
  2. If the plant is large, cut it down to the ground. Larger plants may require a chainsaw to cut down, as some can grow up to 50 ft tall.
  3. Apply herbicide to the stump: Removing privet typically requires a herbicide application. Heavy duty herbicides, such as Pathfinder 2, are most effective. Spray the trunk and root collar… combining the herbicide with dye is helpful, as the dye allows you to see where you’ve sprayed it.
  4. Monitor for regrowth: Even with the herbicide, there will be regrowth. Monitor every few months and hand prune and apply more herbicide as needed.

Are all ligustrum bad news? The answer to this question would be a resounding YES! Your best bet is to opt for a non-invasive, native, beneficial alternative such as Cenizo, Yaupon Holly, Mountain Laurel, Evergreen Sumac, Wax Myrtle, Dwarf Barbados Cherry, plus many more. Not only would you be doing yourself and your yard a favor, you would simultaneously be doing our ecosystem and the wildlife it houses a huge favor, too. JUST SAY NO TO PRIVET! 

Martin, A. (2022). How North Texas natural areas are battling privet. (2022, April 7). GreenSource DFW.

Giambalvo, H. (2021). 5 Important Reasons to Not Plant Ligustrum (Privet) (2021, August 16). Native Backyards.

Sensory Serenity

Written by: Mollie Ripple, Social Media Coordinator

John Burroughs once said, “I go to nature to be soothed, healed, and have my senses put in order.” Like Burroughs, many of us often feel the therapeutic benefits of engaging our senses in nature. But how can this be understood scientifically?

When our bodies are too aroused or not aroused enough to engage with our environment properly, we call this dysregulation. It can manifest as an angry outburst, impulsivity, crying or feeling overwhelmed, and it impairs our ability to deal with stress, manage our emotions, and focus. The ability to change our level of arousal to engage in our environment effectively is called regulation, and one way to do this is through our senses. 

We have seven sensory systems: Sight (vision), Smell (Olfactory), Taste (Gustatory), Hearing (Auditory), Touch (Tactile), Vestibular (Movement), and Proprioception (Body Position). When we tap into these senses, we can increase or decrease our arousal to reach sensory regulation. Even better, we can practice these techniques outdoors and get the added benefits that time in nature provides us.

Here are a few ways we can engage each sensory system through natural materials and activities:

  • Sight: Stargazing, Bird Watching, Going on a scavenger hunt in nature to spot various plants and animals
  • Smell: Stopping to notice the scent of recent rain, wild berries, lavender, or pine
  • Taste: Consuming cold water, herbal tea, or fruit from a tree (that is approved as safe by an adult)
  • Hearing: Listening to the birds sing, a running stream, or the rain
  • Touch: Playing in the sand or soil, Walking barefoot through the grass, Petting your beloved animal, or Stroking the bark on a tree
  • Vestibular: Bicycling, Swinging, Running, or Playing on the playground
  • Proprioceptive:Heavy Work” activities like crawling through the grass, pushing/pulling a wagon, or jumping up and down on a trampoline

A study published by Chang & Chang in 2010 states, “many parents and teachers said that their children and students [were] more stable after doing [these] kind[s] of activit[ies].” So, the next time you or your child feel dysregulated, try getting outdoors and engaging your sensory systems to be soothed and healed in a way only nature can.

Chang, Y. Y., & Chang, C. Y. (2010). The benefits of outdoor activities for children with autism. 

Unpublished manuscript, Department of Horticulture, National Taiwan University, Taipei, ROC.

Spring in North Texas

Written by: Dr. Ellen Edwards-Ravkind, Naturalist Manager

Spring has arrived in North Texas! The days are getting longer and warmer while the nights are still cool. Our trees are covered with fresh, spring-green leaves. The Redbuds and Mexican Plums have already blossomed, but the Oaks, Hackberries and others are still producing more pollen than most people would like. Yellow pollen covers just about everything, and allergy sufferers have had enough. Roadways, meadows, and fields are exploding with color like a French impressionist painting with colors of blues, pinks, magentas, yellows and many more.

This spring, take some time to walk the trails at River Legacy. How many kinds of wildflowers you can identify? Strolling around the pond at the Nature Center you will see a sea of blue! These are the iconic and cherished Bluebonnets, adopted as the official state flower of Texas in 1901. Many residents and visitors alike dress in their Sunday best to have their photos taken in the sea of Bluebonnets. Columbines, Spiderworts, Pink Evening Primrose, Winecups, and Indian Paintbrushes are also blossoming. Look closely and you will find Purple Coneflowers, Mexican Hats, Prairie Coneflowers, and many others!  

You might wonder why there are so many beautiful wildflowers in our park, or how can you have some of these beautiful native wildflowers grow in your yard. It is not as difficult as you might imagine. Native Texas wildflower seeds are readily available. Seeds should be planted within the year harvested to have the best chance to germinate. Some seeds might last longer, but the germination odds decrease. Typically, in North Texas, the best time to sow the seeds is in the fall which gives them a chance to go through our weather cycles to help them induce germination. Rain, cold snaps, and soil abrasion all help with germination. Smaller seeds can be scattered on top of the soil. Larger ones might need to be buried, but not too deep which can prevent them from growing into their beautiful flowers. Usually, about 1/8 to 1/16 inch is more than enough. It is also important to clear the area of invasive plants such as Johnsongrass which can “choke” out your desired plants. It is not too late to plant seeds, but most of your wildflowers will not bloom this year. 

These wildflowers will produce seeds after blossoming and pollination. Make sure to give the seeds time to ripen before you mow or “deadhead” your plants. Simply put, deadheading is a process where old growth and seed heads are removed from the plant individually to either collect the seeds or spread them to new areas. Make sure the stems have turned brown and wear gloves to prevent skin irritation from cutting the dried plants. Leaving some of the dried, hollow plant stems will also provide a home for some of our solitary pollinators during the colder seasons. 

If you continue this process, your gardens will continue to produce these beautiful North Texas wildflowers. Sharing your seeds helps to spread the beauty of Texas wildflowers with others.

Share the excitement with us! If you have a wildflower garden or simply some awesome wildflower photos we’d love to see and feature them!

Send your photos to