Plant Profile: Texas Ranger

The Third Annual Texas Ranger Roundup!

Family: Scrophulariaceae (Figwort Family)

Common names: Texas Ranger, barometer bush, Texas sage, Ceniza

Range: Native to Texas and Mexico. Found growing on rocky limestone hillsides, plains, caliche habitats, and along arroyos.

Each year to celebrate my anniversary with the newsletter, I write about my favorite plant, the Leucophyllum species. The first article can be found in the August 1995 newsletter and the second in the 1996 July edition. Texas Rangers are a hardy and carefree plant. Tolerant of poor soils, winds, drought, and heat - a great plant for the xeric garden.

Rangers are evergreen, although extended drought or cold can cause some leaf drop. Bloom occurs during the warm, wet summer months when the humidity is high and color ranges from white to pinky roses and shades of purple.

This year I've added four more rangers to my growing collection. Leucophyllum "Rain Cloud' is out of Texas A & M and is a hybrid between L. minus and L. frutescens. Growth habit is vertical to 6 feet tall and 3-4 feet wide. Tall and narrow which is unusual for a ranger. Foliage is silver-grey with violet blue flowers. L. revolutum 'Houdini' is from Mountain States and has very large, showy purple flowers and blooms profusely. Growth pattern is like its cousin 'Sierra Magic Mix' to a height and spread of four feet. L. zygohyllum 'Cimarron' is another selection from Mountain States and is great for tight spaces-only growing 3 feet tall by 3 feet wide. Foliage is soft grey and the leaves cup up. Blooms more profusely than 'Blue Ranger' with light blue colored flowers. This ranger is less susceptible to overwatering than others. L. frutescens 'Mountain Cloud' is the latest ranger in the "Cloud Series." Height is from 4-8 feet with a 4-6 ft spread. Foliage is light green with lavender flowers.

Random recent findings: Indians dry the leaves and flowers to make a tea. In the U of A Extension Office, Sierra Vista, cuttings of a Texas ranger were taken and arranged in a vase. The foliage and flowers have dried and are holding up beautifully. The flowers hold on to their color so they make nice dried arrangement material. On a sad note, Benny Simpson, who is responsible for introducing the "Texas A&M Cloud Series" passed away after Christmas. May his memory live on in the many gardens that feature his rangers.

Texas rangers - The Greatest Plants on Earth!

Cheri Melton
September, 1997