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Operation NICE!™

Natives Instead of Common Exotics
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Volume 10 Number 2

Monthly Meeting Tuesday February 2, 2010

Cibolo Nature Center at 140 City Park Road, Boerne TX

Presentation by: Wendy Cooley Leonard, Jayne Neal, and Cheryl Hamilton, City of San Antonio Parks and Recreation Natural Areas will speak on Invasive Plants and the San Antonio Invaders. Cheryl Hamilton, a retired educator, is an Alamo Area Master Naturalist, a member of the San Antonio chapter of NPSOT and a team leader for the San Antonio Invaders satellite of the Texas Invasive Plant and Pest Council. Jayne Neal and Wendy Leonard are biologists with the City of San Antonio Parks and Recreation Department Natural Areas. Jayne has an MS in Wildlife Biology from Texas State University. Wendy Leonard is finishing up an MS in Plant Ecology at the University of Texas at San Antonio.
Invasive species cost billions of dollars to monitor and control, not to mention the damage they cause native ecosystems. A single fruiting nandina can not only sucker but can also produce tens of thousands seeds giving birth to a virtual nandina forest. Enter the San Antonio Invaders, an invasive plant eradication group that has documented, mapped, and removed over 5,000 invasive plants (many of them nandinas) during the course of a year on City of San Antonio Natural Areas. Cheryl has recruited almost 30 volunteers who have contributed nearly 300 volunteer hours. Cheryl, Wendy and Jayne will introduce you to the Natural Areas, discuss why invasive plants are such a scourge, and tell you how the San Antonio Invaders work.
President’s Message

About three years ago, I was standing under one of the ancient oaks behind St. Peter’s Church in Boerne waiting for Sylvia to run a quick errand. Construction was well underway for the new Family Life Center and expanded parking lot. My eyes fell upon a bedraggled plant that looked like a relatively rare native wildflower that Delmar Cain had pointed out to me a few months before, growing naturally at his place, Heller’s Marble Seed (Onosmodium helleri), noted not only for the flower, but also for their substantial , bright-green, pubescent leaves. After flowering, it has round, beige-color fruit that resemble small marbles and is named for Amos Arthur Heller (1867-1944), a Pennsylvania botanist and plant collector.

Searching around the tree, I discovered another plant, both of which, because of foot traffic, were in pitiful shape. The area was soon to be scraped and paved, so quick action was needed. Luckily the construction supervisor was nearby, and, after a brief explanation, to my utter surprise, he quickly and graciously cordoned off the area! I called the landscape coordinator at St. Peter’s who volunteered to rescue the plants and a few days later, called to say she had found a third plant and for me to pick them up. I chose a planting site behind our house to simulate the original growing conditions, under a large oak, where these three tough survivors reside today.
If they are so resilient, why are they so rare? Perhaps it’s because of deer predation, habitat destruction or both. It was only until healthy leaflets developed that I was sure that these wildflowers were not the more common False Gromwell (Onosmodium bejariense).The three Marble Seeds are now well protected and thriving.
This entire scenario is a mini-version of what is covered by at least two or perhaps three of our outstanding committees: Plant Rescue, Veronica Hawk; Growers’ Group, Delmar Cain; Native Plant Sale, Betty Dunn.
Many of you participate in these very worthwhile operations that fulfill most of NPSOT’s mission of promoting conservation and use of native plants. If you would like to participate, I encourage you to contact any of these dedicated committee leaders.
NICE!Plant of the Month

Texas Redbud

(Cercis canadensis var. texensis)

Texas Redbud, a member of the Fabaceae (pea) family, grows as a deciduous small tree or multi-trunked shrub, achieving a maximum height of 10-20 feet. It differs from the Eastern Redbud in that the leaves are rounder, thicker, and very glossy. This tree is best known for the display of clusters of rose-pink flowers on bare gray branches in March and April until the leaves develop. The seed pod is a flat, reddish-brown legume that ripens in the fall. Texas Redbud is adapted to the limestone soils of Central Texas, and has limited distribution in Oklahoma and Mexico. The leaves turn gold or red in the fall.

This tree is often browsed by deer, so caging is necessary. As with many trees, deer may rub their antlers on the trunk causing serious damage.
Plant in dappled shade, part shade, or full sun in well-drained sites. It is drought and cold tolerant. Do not plant under sprinkler irrigation where it will be watered with the lawn. Alkaline soil is preferred, and acceptable soil types include sand, loam, clay, and limestone. Texas Redbud is a good understory tree or shrub. The nectar is a food source for butterflies, bees, moths and insects. Granivorous birds eat the seed pods.
Nice! Tips- Plant Texas Redbud instead of Purple-leaf Plum, ornamental plums, Bradford Pear, Crape Myrtle, Golden Raintree, Chinaberry, or Chinese Tallow.
See the last page for the beautiful Top 10 Native Plants for 2010 Nice!
Boerne NPSOT Spotlight on Education

Native-Plant Watch

Boerne NPSOT has advertised an Education Grant for elementary or middle-school teachers with Boerne ISD. This is a pilot project to help teachers enhance their program about conservation, value, or use of Texas native plants. A grant or grants of up to $500 will be awarded within 30 days after the application deadline of February 1, 2010.

Nature Boxes

Currently, our chapter has supported two Native Plant Nature Boxes used in the Cibolo Nature Center Nature Box program where docents make presentations to the local K-6 classes and leave a box at the school for a week so the students have a chance to engage in the additional activities and books. The Native Plant Nature Boxes support lesson plans about parts of a plant, seasons of the year, native plant adaptations, and germination. Additional Nature Boxes on pollination and ecosystems also spread knowledge about native plants. From October 8 to December 10, 2009, the Nature Box docents gave presentations to 72 K-6 classes, each with about 20 students.

Presentations by Members

Do you have a native plant topic you would be willing to share with others? Would you be willing to help present any one of the topics below? Boerne NPSOT is collecting names of members who are willing to do local presentations on different aspects of native plants: So far we have had people volunteer on the following topics:

Big Red Salvia

Bigtooth Maples

Butterfly Gardens

General Talk on Native plants

Less Used Natives for Landscaping

Native Plants in the TEKS for Elementary Schools

Native Plants in School Investigations and Science Fairs

Planting and Care of Native Plants

Using Natives for Wild Life

Xeriscape with Natives

We will post the topics on the Boerne NPSOT website with the education chairman’s email. If you have additional topics you are willing to speak about contact Kathy Ward at
Kathy Ward

Chapter Doings
Februrary 6 “Ligustrum Blitz”

Boerne NPSOT chapter is partnering with the city on the Boerne civic campus habitat and riparian restoration project at the new library site. We have made great progress in two outings but there is still a lot of ligustrum to be removed. Our next “blitz” will be Saturday February 6 from 8 AM until you wear out or call it quits, but not later than 12 noon. We need chain saws and operators and one or two people for each chain saw team to pull out the downed limbs and trunks. If you can do either, meet at the city hall parking lot at 402 E Blanco. Bring gloves, chain saws, loppers, bow saws if available, water bottles, appropriate clothing and hats, and energy to help eradicate ligustrum and other invasive plants. Coffee and breakfast tacos will be provided. If the weather does not cooperate, we will try for another yet-to-be determined date. So if you can spare a few hours and need some exercise and fresh air, please join us!

Look forward to seeing you there.

Carolyn Walden

Demonstration Garden Workday

Weather permitting; we will have a Work Day in the Demonstration Gardens at CNC on the Second Saturday, February 13th from 9:00 - 12:00 AM. We plan to replace a couple of trees and remove some freeze damaged materials. Bring gloves, shovels, rake and clippers. Bring a warm drink, come out and help tidy the gardens. It's a good way to get to know fellow members and breathe some fresh air. Volunteers are needed! Hope to see a few of you there. Later this spring we will also do some work in the Bergheim Fire Station Demonstration Garden - watch for the notice!

Betty Dunn

Plant Rescue

The recent rains have brought a lot of hope to our native plants. We hope that if everyone participates in scouting for land that will be developed, many more natives will survive. Plants need our help to move before development happens. If you are planning on developing your property, isn’t this the best time to remove the plants that are in the way? The plant rescue committee can do that for you. A fast way to recycle, a plant rescue can also teach participants to identify natives, how to cultivate them and the habitats where they are found. Would you jot down the address and phone number of the 'Property for Sale' signs in your area? Would you forward that information to Veronica Hawk ( Would you help make the most of a development situation? If you would, we’d thank you.

Hope to hear from you-

Veronica Hawk

Boerne Chapter NPSOT Native-Plant Trip to El Cielo

October 20-24 plant trip to the most northerly cloud forest in North America. Read about this all-inclusive trip at . Limit of 30. It is only fair that members who were registered for the cancelled trip last year will be given first priority to get on this year's list.

If you register or intend to register, please notify Bill Ward at He will keep a waiting list after the limit is reached. Sonia will not register anyone until she hears from Bill so as to avoid outsiders from registering. After a certain time, the trip will be open to members of other NPSOT chapters.
Bill Ward

Happenings – the Calendar


NPSOT Events

February 2 (Tuesday) 7 PM. Chapter meeting – Invasive Plants and the San Antonio Invaders. Come at 6:30 to socialize, program starts at 7. Our meetings are open to the public
February 6 (Saturday) 8 AM – 12 noon Ligustrum Blitz – see above
February 13 (Saturday) 9 AM – 12 noon Demonstration garden work day – see above. Volunteers are needed!

March 2 (Tuesday) 7 PM. Chapter meeting Come at 6:30 to socialize, program starts at 7.
CNC Events

Tree Selection, Planting and Watering Saturday, February 6, 9am-noon, CNC Auditorium.Cost: CNC Members $20/person; non-members $25/person. Pre-registration required. Call 830-249-4616.

Presenter: Mark Peterson, tree and water conservation expert. Features SAWS presentation of Texas Hill Country trees and their care. Special focus on most efficient and effective ways to water trees from planting to old age. Includes tree planting demonstration.

Cedar Biology and Management

Saturday, February 20 8:30 am-12:30 pm, Carpool from CNC promptly at 8:30. Cost: CNC Members $20/person; non-members $25/person. Pre-registration required. Call 830-249-4616. Limit: 30.

Presenters: ranch owner Darwin Ressel, TPWD wildlife biologist Rufus Stephens and Hoyt Seidensticker with KC Conservation District. This workshop presents methods, equipment and choices for cedar clearing recommended by the Forest Service, Parks and Wildlife and the Cooperative Extension Service. We have cleared 3 demonstration areas for range improvement, forest ecology and wildlife conservation on a ranch in western Comal County. Come see cedar management in action and choose the best combination of methods for your land. Wear sturdy shoes; walking will be on uneven ground but not strenuous.
Natural Landscape Design Class

Saturday, March 27 9 am-1 pm, CNC Auditorium. Cost: Members $20 per person; non-members $25 per person. Limited to 30. Pre-registration required. Call 830-249-4616. Judit Green, TPWD urban biologist, will focus on using native and adapted plants in this 3-hour landscaping program. She will offer design, installation, and maintenance tips, as well as ideas about plants to incorporate in your design, especially with "deer in the garden" challenges. Then, a tour of CNC's new and established native landscape will show some of these plants in the ground. Go home with a list of drought-tolerant plants that are attractive to humans, butterflies and birds. Many of these plants will be for sale at the April 4th Mostly Native Plant Sale at the Kendall County Fairground in Boerne! This workshop is a great start for a new design in your garden.

To find out about activities and workshops with other organizations call or visit their websites:
Cibolo Nature Center (830.249.4616)

Master Naturalist:

San Antonio, Alamo Chapter

Kerrville, Hill Country Chapter

Friends of Friedrich Wilderness Park (210.372.9124)

Medina River Natural Area Second Saturday Programs (210.624.2575)

For more information or to RSVP for any event please contact by telephone. Website:

  • Our meetings are free and open to the public. Join us the first Tuesday of the month, January-June and September-December, at 6:30 p.m. at the Cibolo Nature Center, Boerne, Texas.

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