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Gone Tomorrow: Don't Mess With Texas Wildflowers

Poppy mallow.
W.D and Dolphia Bransford
Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center
Poppy mallow.

For variegated reasons – urban sprawl, large-scale farming, invasive plants and human thoughtlessness – wildflowers in America are vanishing.

Which is a shame.

In Texas, for instance, bloomspotting in the vast expanse of the Lone Starscape can be like birdwatching. Amid the dun and dust of desert and field, flora can surprise, delight, astonish.

Texas is a gargantuan state that highlights its hugeness, and smallness can get lost in spaciousness. But occasionally largeness can lead to largess. And protectiveness. Some of the state's wee wildflowers, like the poppy mallow

Tobusch fishhook cactus
Joseph A. Marcus / Joseph A. Marcus, Yokabachi Ikon
Joseph A. Marcus, Yokabachi Ikon
Tobusch fishhook cactus

and the Tobusch fishhook cactusare disappearing. So the folks at the at The University of Texas at Austin are scrambling to track down the little beauties and preserve them.

The Center's Barbra Rodriguez says that nearly two-dozen Texas plants are endangered and more than a dozen known native-to-Texas species have already gone extinct.

The poppy-mallow and fishhook cactus, Barbra says, "are among the rare and endangered Texas plants we've taken on site for reintroduction into Texas landscapes."

While constantly boasting about its bigness, Texas also values – at least in this case – pretty little lovely things.

What is The Protojournalist? New-school storytelling, old-school reporting. @NPRtpj

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Linton Weeks joined NPR in the summer of 2008, as its national correspondent for Digital News. He immediately hit the campaign trail, covering the Democratic and Republican National Conventions; fact-checking the debates; and exploring the candidates, the issues and the electorate.
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