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Correll’s False Dragonhead – Discover the Rare Plant Found on Lady Bird Lake

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Bright purple flowers on bright green stem with leaves on a blurred natural background with water
Bright purple flowers on bright green stem with leaves on a blurred natural background with water

Correll’s false dragonhead – Lady Bird Lake


Lady Bird Lake and the Ann and Roy Butler Hike-and-Bike Trail are home to dozens of plant and animal species, making up a unique urban habitat right in the heart of Austin. You’ll find familiar Texas icons as you make your way around the 10-mile loop: Live Oak trees, Texas Bluebonnets, agaves, and more. But there is one rare plant species that you may not recognize that’s found on Lady Bird Lake: Correll’s false dragonhead. 

Aquatic plants in Lady Bird Lake

Courtesy of Watershed Protection Department

On the Water’s Edge

Correll’s false dragonhead (Physostegia correllii) is a perennial flowering plant belonging to the mint family. It grows in the riparian zone, along streams and rivers in between terrestrial (found on land) and aquatic habitat. Blooming in the late summer and early fall, Correll’s false dragonhead serves as a pollen source for bees. It’s now found only in central and southern Texas, coastal Louisiana, and northern Mexico, making it a rare find.

Habitat loss caused by mowing, herbicide use, and overcrowding of invasive species impact populations of Correll’s false dragonhead, and the species is currently under review to be listed under the Endangered Species Act. The United States Geological Survey is conducting a study of Correll’s false dragonhead at various locations on Lady Bird Lake, collecting research on how shade affects the recovery and expansion of the species. This data will help determine if the plant will be considered for listing as an endangered species.

Improving Habitat Along the Trail

One of The Trail Foundation’s top priorities is ecological restoration along the Trail, including work to restore the shoreline of Lady Bird Lake to ensure this habitat remains abundant for the species that live there. Over the past year, TTF has worked with City of Austin’s Watershed Protection Department to stabilize the shoreline and install floating wetlands to increase plant diversity and provide habitat in the water. 

Learn more about TTF’s ecological restoration projects along the Butler Hike-and-Bike Trail.


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