Centered in the city of Nacogdoches, the oldest town in Texas, and tucked into the north end of the Stephen F. Austin University (SFAU) campus one finds 42 acres of uplands, mesic mid-slopes and wet creek bottom. This is the Pineywoods Native Plant Center (PNPC).
Dedicated in 1999 the mission of PNPC is to promote education about conservation and use of native plants of the southern forest. This is accomplished through its unique approach of the Three Rs Research Program: Rescue – collecting endangered plant material, Research – conducting propagation and container production research, Reintroduction – replanting in appropriate sites. This program is currently used with three federally endangered pant species of East Texas: the Neches river rose mallow (Hibiscus dasycalyx), Texas white firewheel (Gaillardia aestivalis var. winklerii), and Texas trailing phlox (Phlox nivalis ssp. texensis).
The Tucker Woods Trail guides visitors through two miles of the six plant communities in PNPC, each showing off its own unique ecosystem. The first three are part of The Lady Bird Johnson Demonstration Gardens designed to display the plants in a tiered fashion. The Xeric Bed provides a habitat favored by low moisture, drought-tolerant species like prickly pear and yucca.
The Mesic Bed containing a moderate amount of moisture and sloping terrain yields the dogwood and redbud trees. The Riparian Zone shows river birch and pawpaw.
The Wetland bog offers thick rushes of cattail and bald cypress. The Prairieland provides a composition of herbs and grasses like golden rod and cone-flower. The Bottomland Hardwood Forest reflects the dominating forest of East Texas with wetland loving broad-leaves and needle-leaved deciduous trees including beech, elm, cypress, and walnut.
About a third of the way the Tucker Woods Trail intersects and follows the Lanana Creek trail. Not only will you enjoy the plant life, but you may spot some of the 105 species of birds including Summer Tanager and Red-eyed Vireo. All trails are accessibly designed.
There are a couple of ways to experience the Pineywoods Native Plant Center. You can follow the trail map stopping along each plant community to marvel at the beauty and identify the myriad of plants. Or, you can couple your visit with one of the many scheduled programs offered by PNPC at the Ina Brundrett Conservaton Education building.