Gaillardia aestivalis var. winkleri
|white blanket-flower, white fire-wheel, Winkler's gaillardia|
|(Walt.) Rock. var. winkleri (Cory) B.L. Turner|
The following Participating Institutions are custodians for this species in the CPC National Collection:
Mercer Arboretum and Botanic Gardens
The conservation of Gaillardia aestivalis var. winkleri is fully sponsored.
Dave Berkshire contributed to this Plant Profile.
The white firewheel is a rare relative of roadside wildflowers called Indian blanket or Mexican blanket. This rare species flowers from May to September with 12-18 deeply-three-lobed white to maroon ray flowers or "petals" (as opposed to yellow and orange) and with a yellow or purple "eye" of disk flowers. This pubescent species bears horizontal stems called rhizomes. The stems may stand erect to 2 feet tall or sprawl up to 3 feet. The fruit is a densely pubescent achene (Nemec 1995).
This rare wildflower occurs only in Hardin, Newton & Tyler Counties, Texas, and occurs in the same threatened habitat as the rare Texas trailing phlox (Phlox nivalis ssp. texensis) and the uncommon scarlet catchfly (Silene subciliata). These beautiful wildflowers are well-adapted to the drought-conditions found in the sandhills of the East Texas Pineywoods where they grow.
Distribution & Occurrence
Found along the unshaded margin of xeric sandhills along Village Creek of the Pineywoods in Hardin County in East Texas. Many populations are within the Nature Conservancy's Sandylands Preserve. This species habitat overlaps with that of the federally-listed Phlox nivalis spp. texensis. The loose, white, sandy soils on which it occurs are characteristic in this oak-farkleberry sandyland system. It also occurs in open pine-oak woodlands.
The dominant trees include Longleaf Pine, Blue-jack Oak and Sand-jack Oak. The dominant understory tree/shrub is Farkleberry, Vaccinium arboreum (Nemec 1995). In addition to Phlox nivalis spp. texensis, Ambrosia artemisiifolia, the uncommon Amsonia glaberrima, Andropogon gerardii, Berlanderia sp., Chamaechrista fasciculata, Centrosema virginianum, Cnidosculus texanus, Croton capitatus, C. glandulosus, Croptilon divaricatum, Diodia teres, Euphorbia cordifolia, E. corollata, Froelichia floridana, Heterotheca latifolia, H. pilosa, Lechea mucronata, Liatris elegans, Monarda punctata, Panicum brachyanthum, Ruellia humilis, Schizachyrium scoparium, the uncommon Silene subciliata, Solidago nitida, Stylosanthes biflora, Tradescantia reverchonii, Trichostema dichtomum, and Vernonia texana occur in overlapping habitats (Orzell 1989; TNHP 1993).
| Eight sites listed in Hardin County, Texas in 1995 (Nemec 1995)
Although there are 21 records in Texas, these do not all represent distinct populations (Poole 2000).
10,000+ individuals have been reported, however, this may be estimates of stems and not represent distinct individuals as this is a rhizomatous species.
Conservation, Ecology & Research
Conversion of sandhill environment to pine plantations.
Soil disturbance due to forestry management.
Plants may be propagated from cuttings and divisions and by germination (40-59%) of seed (Mercer Arb. unpublished).
Mercer staff and volunteers maintain an expanding population of White firewheel as a permanent educational exhibit within our Endangered Species Garden. These plants on exhibit self-sow and spread via rhizomes. The Endangered Species Garden, established in 1994 with support from Star Enterprises, displays rare native plants for the public to view year-round. In Spring 2002, the River Oaks Garden Club of Houston (ROGC), TX provided a generous gift to begin the expansion and renovation of Mercers Endangered Species Garden.
Mercer Arboretum and Botanic Gardens maintains seed bank of this species. Banked wild-collected seed of this species date to 1993. Mercer also banks subsets of rare seeds collected from field surveys and from propagation work with our collaborating CPC institution, the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center, Austin, TX and the National Center for Genetic Resources Preservation (NCGRP) in Denver, CO (formerly called the National Seed Storage Laboratories).
Plants produced for educational display gardens or for specific restoration and reintroduction projects are produced within Mercers nursery greenhouses and within our Conservation Area. The Conservation Area provides secure, raised beds for mass propagation of plants/seeds. Each bed is provided with independently controlled irrigation and substrates that meet the unique requirements for each species. Populations are propagated separately to ensure genetic purity.
Management includes controlled burning of habitats.
The White firewheel is currently being reintroduced into its historic range, The Big Thicket National Preserve of the National Park Service (NPS) (SFA 2001; Sonne 2002). This reintroduction is funded by a National Parks Service, Department of Interior Grant prepared by Roy Zipp (formerly with Big Thicket National Preserve) and coordinated by Fulton Jean Sonne of The Big Thicket National Preserve. Dr. David Creech, staff and students of Stephen F. Austin State University, Nacogdoches, TX propagate this species for this reintroduction. (SFA 2001)
Identify additional reintroduction sites.
Additional taxonomic research.
Ajilvsgi, G. 1979. Wild flowers of the Big Thicket, East Texas, and Western Louisiana. College Station: Texas A & M University Press. 360p.
Loughmiller, C.; Loughmiller, L. 1984. Texas wildflowers: A field Guide. Austin, TX. University of Texas Press.
Poole, J.M.; Carr, W.R.; Price, D.M.; Singhurst, J.R. 2007. Rare Plants of Texas. College Station, Texas. Texas A&M University Press. 640p.