How It Started
South Texas Natives was initiated in January 2000. During 2001, the project was formalized with the hiring of former STN Coordinator, Paula Maywald. Primary interest in the project was generated by local landowners concerned with the use of non-native species for revegetation efforts coinciding with the construction of Interstate 69 in south Texas. The lack of adapted native seed for utility and pipeline rights-of-way revegetation also stimulated interest in the project, as well as recent research findings which indicate that non-native species have negative effects on wildlife populations in south Texas. When concerned landowners realized the possibility of the further spread of non-native species to private ranchlands, and the possible deterioration of important wildlife habitat in the region, STN was formed.
The program’s initial focus was to obtain seed collections from remnant native plant populations in a thirty-three county area of south Texas. From 2001 to 2004, project personnel collected 1,751 seed collections in the region, most from private ranches. This enormous reservoir of native plant material will be used for evaluation, selection, and eventual release of native plant seed for years to come.
The current focus of this program is on the evaluation of these collections and the selection of superior collections for release to the commercial seed industry. Collections of each species are evaluated and tested for important traits, and superior collections are chosen for release. These collections are then grown in large-scale commercial settings to obtain adequate seed quantities and develop protocol for their production.
South Texas Natives and its collaborators have released seed of 14 native plant species to the commercial market. These important native grasses and forbes were developed for use in rangeland restoration, highway right-of-way plantings, forage development, and wildlife habitat improvement in the region. Subsequent releases (2 - 3 species per year) are planned for the future.
South Texas Natives will continue to collect and evaluate other native plant species. Beginning in 2010, STN will start working with collaborators to address native seed needs in Central and West Texas. Research to discover the most effective planting strategies of the new releases for successful restoration plantings also continues. As more and more species become commercially available, seed mixtures comprised of multiple species will be developed to suit specific objectives, soil types, and regions of south Texas.