Federal and State Listed Species of Texas:
Johnston's frankenia

Distribution

Current

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Distribution map of Johnston's frankenia (Frankenia johnstonii).

Scientific Name
Frankenia johnstonii
Other Scientific Names
Frankenia leverichii
Other Common Names
Johnston's seaheath
Status
Federally delisted, State endangered
Global Rank
G3
State Rank
S3

Global Location

Johnston’s frankenia is known only from Starr, Webb, and Zapata counties, Texas and in the adjacent states of Nuevo Leon and Tamaulipas, Mexico.

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Description

Johnston’s frankenia is a ≤30 cm tall shrub with arching stems that grows into 15-60 cm wide clumps. A fine layer of scattered hairs covers the 0.4-5 mm wide stems. Most of the year the plant is grayish to bluish green, but in the fall and winter the plant turns red. Leaves occur directly opposite each other on the stem and have 0.7-2.2 mm long stalks, which hold the leaves at a 30°-45° angle from the stem. On opposite sides of the leaf stalks are two slight wings, or flat membranous outgrowths, which wrap around the main stem. Edges of the leaf are folded under. The narrowly oval leaves are 4-13 mm long and have a mealy, whitish powder on the lower surface as well as fine hairs. Flowers are cupped by cylindrical, narrow, leaf-like structures with ridges and five, upright triangular lobes. The five (rarely six) overlapping, spoon-shaped petals are usually white and 6-10 mm long by 2.1-2.5 mm wide. The brown, egg-shaped fruit is small (2.8-3.5 mm long by 1.2-1.4 mm wide) and holds one seed.

Johnston’s frankenia has opposite leaves, which have edges that fold under and whitish powder on the underside.

Credit: Anna Strong - Texas Parks & Wildlife Dept.

Johnston's frankenia is a petite shrub with slender leaves and white flowers.

Credit: Dana Price - Texas Parks & Wildlife Dept.

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Similar Species

With its slender leaves occurring opposite one another, white flowers, petite stature, and red winter appearance, Johnston’s frankenia is the only shrub of its kind in South Texas.

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Floral Characters

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Leaf Characters

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Habitat

Johnston’s frankenia occurs in saline, chalky, clayey to sandy hillsides or flats of the South Texas thorn scrublands.

Habitat of Johnston's frankenia.

Credit: Anna Strong - Texas Parks & Wildlife Dept.

Life Cycle Events

Flowering occurs throughout the year after sufficient rain.

Survey Season

Johnston’s frankenia can be found and identified year-round.

Comments

When Johnston’s frankenia was listed as Endangered in 1984, only five sites were known. Because of thorough surveying in South Texas, a significant number of sites have been found in Texas and Mexico. This species has been delisted, however there is great interest by private landowners to conserve populations of Johnston’s frankenia on their land.