Chapter 3: Native and Introduced Grasses, Wildflowers and Legumes

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Section 1: Overview

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Background

The Texas Department of Transportation has received national recognition for its roadside wildflower program. Since 1929, the department has maintained the practice of withholding mowing until wildflowers have set mature seed and expanding the range of wildflower species.

In addition to beautifying the right of way, wildflowers – along with native and introduced grasses and legumes – contribute to the overall health of the plant community by providing specific soil nutrients. Preservation and propagation of these plants continues to be an important part of the department’s vegetation management strategy.

Planting roadsides with mixtures of native and introduced grasses, legumes and wildflowers adheres to the department’s policy of:

  • providing a safe and comfortable road network for the traveling public
  • enhancing environmental protection and developing over 800,000 acres of roadside wildlife habitat
  • reducing erosion losses of topsoil and borrow material
  • providing cost-efficient maintenance activities.
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Benefits

The use of wildflowers with a specific grass mixture for a localized area (Standard Specifications for Construction and Maintenance of Highways, Streets and Bridges, Item 164) will:

  • help blend highway right of way into adjacent lands
  • reduce maintenance costs
  • reduce erosion rates
  • improve aesthetic beauty
  • add to the value of roadsides as wildlife habitat.
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General Nature of Information

The information contained in this chapter is very general and may not apply to all species. Additional research may be necessary to obtain information on specific species.

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