Field Trip Report: Watson Rare Native Plant Preserve, May 15

On Sunday, May 15, Joe Liggio and preserve staff led eight HOS members and guests on a two-hour orchid hunting tour through the Watson Rare Native Plant Preserve. Despite the Houston heat, the weather was relatively cool a few hours away beneath the tall East Texas pine trees. Although we certainly came prepared with bug spray, ample water, and at least three matching hats, not much in the way of outdoor hiking skills or supplies was ultimately needed. Our skilled guides as well as raised wooden walkways throughout the preserve enabled us to view orchids and other rare native Texas plants up close in their natural habitat without discomfort.

Native Texas orchids bloom throughout a relatively long Texas growing season. Our trip this particular Sunday in May was to see the Grass Pink Orchid (Calopogon tuberosus) in bloom, and they were certainly plentiful.


We also spotted several Ladies’ Tresses Orchids (Spiranthes species) that had just begun their blooming season.


Joe Liggio and the preserve staff identified other native Texas orchids that will be blooming later in the summer including the Water Spider Orchid (Habenaria repens) and the rare and endangered Chapman’s Fringed Orchid (Platanthera chapmanii). For those who missed this trip, Joe will likely lead further expeditions this summer during the blooming seasons of these other native Texas orchids.


I conclude with a heartfelt thank you to the staff at the Watson Rare Native Plant Preserve. Admission is free to anyone who wants to visit, the facilities and preserve are well-maintained, and the staff was an invaluable resource on our walk. All of this is in addition to their successful Texas orchid conservation efforts that are available for everyone to appreciate.

—Stephen Gallagher