The South Texas Sand Sheet, also known as the Coastal Sand Plains and the Llano Mesteño, is a vast region covering more than two million acres at the southern tip of the state, just north of the Lower Rio Grande Valley. The landscape's distinctive feature is the dunes created from sheets of sand blown inland from the shoreline of an ancient sea. Highly diverse native plant communities help make it one of the state's most cherished ecological regions as well as the premier hunting region in the world for northern bobwhites. The Sand Sheet is a constantly shifting semi-arid landscape, shaped by wind, ranching, energy production, and, increasingly, by growing urban populations surrounding the region.
Organized with the nonbotanist or beginning-level botanist in mind, A Photographic Guide to the Vegetation of the South Texas Sand Sheet includes 200 of the most common grasses, flowering plants, vines, cacti, and woody plants of the South Texas Sand Sheet, 56 of which are species endemic to Texas and 15 of which can only be found in this region. Species are grouped by physical appearance, allowing budding naturalists, landowners, and students to find a specific plant without needing to first understand how families and species are grouped scientifically. Each plant entry includes a representative sampling of photos for that species, showing how it might look from a distance, up close, and at different stages of its life cycle.
This handy snapshot of plant life in the South Texas Sand Sheet will enable anyone to easily identify Sand Sheet plants, learn more about their uses, and understand their value to the region.
Dexter Peacock is a retired lawyer, photographer, cattle rancher, and Sand Sheet landowner. Forrest S. Smith is the Dan L. Duncan Endowed Director of South Texas Natives and Texas Native Seeds Projects at the Caesar Kleberg Wildlife Research Institute.