Federal and State Listed Species of Texas:
large-fruited sand verbena

Distribution

Current

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Distribution map of large-fruited sand verbena (Abronia macrocarpa).

Scientific Name
Abronia macrocarpa
Other Scientific Names
none
Other Common Names
none
Status
Federally and State Endangered
Global Rank
G2
State Rank
S2

Global Location

Known only from Freestone, Leon, and Robertson counties in Texas.

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Description

Large-fruited sand verbena is a non-woody perennial with a taproot. The 50 cm tall stems have sticky hairs and are more or less erect. Leaves occur opposite to one another along the stem, are egg-shaped, and 2-5 cm long. All leaves have sticky hairs and are thick textured. Leaf edges are smooth or wavy, but not lobed. The pink-purple, funnel-shaped flowers are 6-13 cm long and 4-6 mm wide. The flared portion of the funnel has five lobes. Twenty to seventy-five flowers cluster together in a 4-7 cm wide head. The 8-15 mm long fruit has a lengthwise heart-shaped outline and five papery wings.

The leaves of large-fruited sand verbena have sticky hairs (which collect sand, as you can see in the image), have smooth or wavy edges, and are not lobed. The flowers are always pink-purple.

Credit: Paula Williamson - Texas State University

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Similar Species

Rose vervain (Glandularia canadensis), a common plant throughout East Texas, has thinner leaves than large-fruited sand verbena. Also, the leaves are sharply and irregularly cut and have three (or more) shallow lobes. The flowers are mostly pink, but display a great variety of colors, from rose to magenta, and blue to purple. Although rose vervain flowers are funnel-shaped, the flowers are wider (11-15 mm), and at the end of each lobe there is one shallow notch. When mature, the four-chambered fruit break into four 1-seeded, oblong sections, which are slightly flared at the base. Unlike large-fruited sand verbena, these fruits do not have wings.

The leaves of rose vervain are relatively thin, sharply and irregularly cut, and have three or more shallow lobes. Similar to the flowers in the image, the blooms of rose vervain are mostly pink, but they can be other colors.

Credit: Paula Williamson - Texas State University

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Floral Characters

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Leaf Characters

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Habitat

Large-fruited sand verbena occurs in deep sandy soils with sparse vegetation in openings of post oak woodlands.

Habitat of large-fruited sand verbena.

Credit: Gena Janssen - Texas Parks & Wildlife Dept.

Life Cycle Events

Flowering occurs from February to May and occasionally after high rainfall. The plants usually die back during the hot summer months, and rosettes emerge in the fall.

Survey Season

As an herbaceous perennial, large-fruited sand verbena dies back after the fruits disperse in the summer and re-emerges in the fall; however, the plant is most easily detected when in flower February to April.

Comments

  • The plant’s fruit size, larger than other sand verbenas in the state of Texas (8-15 mm long), gives large-fruited sand verbena its common name.
  • The flowers are pollinated by several types of sphinx moths, which are active during dusk and at night.