Portraits of Wildflowers

Perspectives on Nature Photography

Archive for July 15th, 2014

An endangered species, part 2

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Yesterday you heard about a May 24th field trip led by biologist Flo Oxley to look at Zizania texana, Texas wild-rice, an endangered aquatic grass that grows only in the first two miles of the San Marcos River as it emerges from Spring Lake in San Marcos, a town about 30 miles southwest of Austin.

Texas Wild-Rice 8521

The seed-bearing stalks of Texas wild-rice rise out of the water and the seed sheaths hang downward.

What I didn’t mention last time is that because of the springs that feed the river, people have lived there for over 10,000 years; in fact some scholars believe that this might well be the oldest continually inhabited site in North America. I bring that up not only because it’s interesting in its own right, but also because people continue to interact with the wild-rice in the San Marcos River, an upper portion of which is adjacent to Texas State University. It’s common in warm weather (which means most of the year in Texas) for students to sun themselves on the banks of the San Marcos, with some students and other people wending their way down the river in tubes or canoes, thus sharing the water with the wild-rice. Botanists have cordoned off some of the plants to control contact, but other plants are right out there where people are passing by. Let’s hope it remains a peaceful coexistence.

For much more information about the history of human interaction with the springs that feed the San Marcos river, you can check out these two articles:

http://www.statesman.com/news/news/local/san-marcos-spring-lake-could-warrant-world-heritag/nSxLp/

http://www.edwardsaquifer.net/sanmarcos.html

Texas Wild Rice 8638

Note: the second picture in yesterday’s post didn’t let you click to enlarge it. Now it’s gone from recalcitrant to repentant and will dutifully enlarge if you click it.

© 2014 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

July 15, 2014 at 6:04 AM

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