This review brings a new and improved version of an out of print South Texas favorite, A Field Guide to Common South Texas Shrubs by Richard B. Taylor, Jimmy Rutledge and Joe G. Herrera.
Released in 2014, Common Woody Plants and Cacti of South Texas is authored by Richard B. Taylor and includes seven new species, bringing the total number of species covered to 50. Excluding the Rio Grande Valley, Taylor estimates these 50 plants make up 75% of the region’s woody and cacti biomass and woody canopy. A bonus to those of us outside of South Texas is that 25 of the 50 species can also be found over much of the rest of Texas. Thus the descriptions, historical information, brush management considerations, nutritional information and values of each plant for wildlife (including pollinators) will prove helpful to all who purchase this soft-cover, pocket-sized field guide containing 152 pages and 117 color photos.
For anyone who has tried to identify any of these South Texas woody plants and found it a daunting task, a plant quick key is provided which offers easy choices to differentiate between many of these similar-looking species. This key will speed up your search to help properly identify an unknown woody plant or cacti.
Another nice feature of this book is that the plants are organized by family and divided into three sections reviewing straight thorn, curved thorn and thornless plants. Each plant is examined over two to three pages including excellent color photos of plant details and a landscape view. For a third of the plant species there is white space at the end of the last page where a bonus photo could have been added but otherwise this is an excellent resource for anyone who wants to learn about these plants and their value to wildlife and livestock.