Native Plants In and Out of Texas

by Ragtimelil

Some wild plants that grow in New Hampshire do not grow in Texas. I'll miss some of my old wild friends, but I'll be meeting new ones.

When I was in my 30s, I became interested in wild plants. Euell Gibbons and his Stalking the Wild Asparagus had something to do with that. (He died of a ruptured aneurysm, not from eating wild mushrooms as rumor had it.)

Since then I’ve always noticed native plants and paid particular attention to any that were useful. I’ve collected edible plants, wild dye plants and wild medicinal plants

No Stinging Nettle to Be Found

Stinging Nettle by Hans

Now that I’ve relocated 2,000 miles away, I’m shocked at some of the plants that don’t grow wild in Texas. For instance, stinging nettle grows like a weed in New Hampshire, but not in the southern part of Texas where I’m living. I had plans to try retting (rotting) stinging nettle and producing fiber from the stalks. It is one of the oldest plant fibers used for weaving cloth similar to flax and hemp. On top of that, it can be used as a dye and can make a tasty green when cooked.

A quick blanch is enough to tame the sting. Nettles also can be medicinal as an anti-inflammatory. 


The Uncommon Milkweed



My old friend, the common milkweed only gets as far as Arkansas. It’s another native plant that could be used like flax for fiber. I’ve tried it once but wasn’t successful. It’s not as easy as they make it sound. I love to eat milkweed, however. The young shoots and pods are delicious when cooked. Milkweed has a bitter principal, so the cooking water has to be thrown out a couple of times and refreshed. Then you’re left with a wonderful green that is reminiscent of asparagus but has a flavor all its own. If I had known, the last time I gathered milkweed, that it would be my last taste of it, I would have gathered more.


Goldenrod and Burdock

Goldenrod, those beautiful fall golden flowers that produce such easy golden dyes, do not grow in Texas. One plant I won’t miss is burdock. It can be used as a dye plant and as a medicinal as well as for food. I dislike it though because of its seed pods. They stick to everything and are hard to remove. They can ruin a sheep’s fleece and make a dog miserable.burdock by hans




Dye Plants

One of my favorites
Craft of the Dyer: Colour from Plants and Lichens

Here is a complete guide to making and using dyes from a wide variety of plants — from acorn to zinnia. For each plant: suitability for dyeing, parts to use, processing, availab...

$12.95  $7.99
Natural Dyes, Plants and Processes

$17.69  $45.0

Jewelweed and Posion Ivy

Jewelweed does grow here, according to the books, but I haven’t found it yet. It generally likes to grow near poison ivy, which is very handy since its main use is to counteract the effects of that annoying native plant. There’s plenty of poison ivy around here – I mean everywhere, but no jewelweed, so far.

Hazards of the Woods

Outwitting Poison Ivy

Outwitting Poison Ivy is a factual and sometimes humorous look at some of the most irksome weeds in the woods. It identifies poison ivy, poison oak, and poison sumac, and enable...

$8.99  $12.0

Some Old Friends

One plant I’m glad to see again is the Jerusalem artichoke, not actually related to artichokes, but rather a sunflower. It grows tubers that are edible. It was one of the first flowers I spotted when we landed here, and before someone mowed them all down. That won’t kill Jerusalem artichokes, however. They just grow back.


I’ve also found curly dock which can be used for food and for dye. And yarrow which is my favorite tea remedy for a feverish cold.

According to the book mullein grows down here too. It’s a great dye plant as well as a medicinal plant. I love its stately stalk that grows in the second year.



Medicinal Herbs

Books of Wisdom
Herbal Remedies from the Wild: Finding and Using Medicinal Herbs

A handbook for the home herbalist, detailing how to identify, gather, and prepare more than fifty different wild plants for medicinal use.Traditional herbal medicine, long pract...

$16.99  $6.55
The Book of Herbal Wisdom: Using Plants as Medicines

Matthew Wood is recognized world wide as one of the United States' most reknown herbalists. His previous book, Seven Herbs: Plants as Healers, was a watershed in teaching herbal...

$16.19  $9.53

Old and New Friends

One of my very favorite plants is St John's wort, the same stuff that’s sold as a remedy for depression. It also makes a wonderful reddish dye. I love looking at the tiny leaves and seeing the neat row of even tinier holes in them. That confirms that I have the right plant. According to the book, they grow down here too.

 St Johns Wort

There are many native plants here I haven’t discovered yet, but one I want to experiment with is the mesquite tree. The seeds can be eaten and used to make wine, so I have read.  I found a tree, but the branches were out of my reach. I’m searching for a shorter tree.


A Texas Guide

Edible and Useful Plants of Texas and the Southwest: A Practical Guide

All around us there are wild plants good for food, medicine, clothing, and shelter, but most of us don't know how to identify or use them. Delena Tull amply supplies that knowle...

$44.48  $42.35
Updated: 07/12/2012, Ragtimelil
Thank you! Would you like to post a comment now?


Only logged-in users are allowed to comment. Login
Ragtimelil on 07/13/2012

They're pretty new to me. I mean, some I vaguely remember from when I grew up here, but some I never paid attention to. Now I'm interested and notice them more.

Pinkchic18 on 07/13/2012

It's always neat learning about different types of plants like this. I've never been to Texas, so those exclusive to there are new to me! I've never seen a St. John's Wort plant but they are interesting too!

Ragtimelil on 07/13/2012

sheilamarie, it is rather exciting to learn new plants. I've met the Chinaberry tree, (poisonous) the Osage orange tree, (good for wood and rather interesting) , and the sweet gum tree, to name a few. I take walks and say hello to them.

Ragtimelil on 07/13/2012

I know I really was shocked that nettles didn't grow down here. Who'd a thunk it. Glad to hear from someone who appreciates "weeds" instead of trying to wipe everything out.

sheilamarie on 07/13/2012

I used to read Euell Gibbons, too. I'm discovering new plants since moving west from Vermont. It's kind of exciting to make new leafy friends.

You might also like

Flowering Weeds - Both Pretty and Useful

People often spray herbicides to get rid of all weeds. But killing certain we...

May Apples Don't Grow on Trees

May Apples grow in moist shady areas and are native to the U.S. and Canada. T...

Disclosure: This page generates income for authors based on affiliate relationships with our partners, including Amazon, Google and others.
Loading ...