August 08, 2021

East TX gathering! Gus Engeling, Richland Creek, and Neches River NWR! Oct 1 - 3

Hey all,

Been a bit delayed in getting this scheduled (been busy!), but we've got another little gathering planned for East TX! There are three spots that we'll check out on Oct 1 - 3:
Richland Creek WMA
Gus Engeling WMA
Neches River NWR

We've got permission to blacklight in both of the WMA's, but not the NWR. So, here's my general plan:
Explore and blacklight at Richland Creek on Friday, Oct 1
Explore and blacklight at Gus Engeling on Saturday, Oct 2
Explore Neches River NWR on Sunday, Oct 3

Richland Creek WMA -- we can set up blacklights at the north unit, right off of hwy 287. Here:
31°58'14.0"N 96°05'02.6"W
31.970556, -96.084056

Camping is at that location as well.

Gus Engeling WMA -- we can blacklight at this really nice prairie unit here:
31°57'05.4"N 95°53'24.3"W
31.951500, -95.890083

Camping is a little off the beaten path, here:
31°56'29.8"N 95°52'50.5"W
31.941611, -95.880694

Neches River NWR has some closed units for hunting, but we do have access to the "Dead Water Unit." This is south of Hwy 79, here:
31°53'35.4"N 95°25'42.7"W
31.893167, -95.428528

No real itinerary or schedule with any of these -- just exploring some of the areas and then meeting for some blacklighting at night!

Palestine is probably the closest spot for hotels and stuff.

No electricity at any of the blacklighting spots, so bring those portable units!

Let me know if you're planning on coming! Here's my cell as well -- toss it in your contacts: 214 215 5605

Posted on August 08, 2021 13:44 by sambiology sambiology | 33 comments | Leave a comment

August 03, 2021

Upcoming events in DFW! :) I'll update with more as I hear about them!

Mark those calendars! Here are a few events going on in DFW:

August 13 -- black-lighting event at Ten Mile Creek Preserve in Lancaster

September 4 -- black-lighting event at Bob Jones Nature Center in Southlake
September 5 - 11 -- DFW-wide socially distant bioblitz! Competition just like last years.

October 1 - 3 -- east TX gathering at Gus Engeling, Richland Creek, and Neches River
October 21 -- black-lighting at LLELA

If you know of others that need to be added to the list, let me know! :)

Posted on August 03, 2021 18:15 by sambiology sambiology | 19 comments | Leave a comment

July 29, 2021

Positive Feedback Loop of Identifications -- it's a big deal!

Encouraging others, through words or actions helps to inspire and encourage you in return. You are helping others exactly the same time you are helping yourself. ~Nasreen Variyawa

I'm in a really lucky position to interact with lots of naturalists and nature enthusiasts. When we talk about iNaturalist, we talk a lot about the community. We speak of the great observations from around the world, some of the magnificent observations (which, the observation of the day and observation of the week highlight as well ), and the folks that make these observations. Most of all, we talk about the identifiers and experts that dedicate so much time and energy to welcoming us all to the community.

This process of adding identifications is a positive feedback loop. When we add on an ID to an observation, we welcome that observer to the community. Yes, we make the entire database better, we train the AI to give better suggestions, and we learn a lot when we ID. But, I think that the welcoming part is the most relevant and meaningful.

In my very biased opinion, this is the real power of this tool -- iNaturalist is all about engagement for me. We engage with nature, and we engage with the community of naturalists. Those are really meaningful experiences! When I'm outside, I feel like I'm traveling around with others -- other naturalists and other species! It's always fun to find a 'new' species for me, and I have some fun researching to try to figure out the name of my 'natural neighbors.'

I am in awe of the taxon experts that give the tremendous gift of their time and energy to adding in ID's. It's freaking amazing how talented these folks are -- and how generous they are with their knowledge. Some day, I hope that I can get to that level of experience with a particular group of organisms. In the meantime, I'm simply in awe of these amazing people.

I tend to be a 'regional ID'er' -- the vast majority of my time ID'ing is focused on north central TX... I'm far from an expert, but I've learned so much from helping folks learn the names of species. And yes, I've made thousands and thousands of mistakes on ID's -- it's ok. How do I know they were mistakes? Well, they were corrected by someone else! This is all part of the process -- I've learned a lot from these mistakes too. I still make them sometimes, but I'm still learning as well. :)

So, ID'ing is such a valuable part of this process of welcoming a naturalist to the community -- it inspires them to go out and make more observations, learn a little more, and engage again with nature. I love it -- it makes me so happy. :)

Inspiration is given to inspire. We give what we receive. ~David O. Mears

Posted on July 29, 2021 15:53 by sambiology sambiology | 13 comments | Leave a comment

June 22, 2021

Moth week stuff!

Moth-ers! Some 'mothing' events (I guess I really should call these "black-lighting" because we tend to be just as interested in all of the other bugs that come to the lights...) coming up in July:

July 17 - Spring Creek Forest Preserve in Garland
July 18 - Lochwood Park in Dallas
July 21 - Stephenville - journal post with more info here.
July 22 - John Bunker Sands in Seagoville
July 24 - Acton Nature Center east of Granbury

Should be fun! :)

Posted on June 22, 2021 22:50 by sambiology sambiology | 32 comments | Leave a comment

June 03, 2021

South Dallas County parks project -- species surveys in 10 parks!

Hey all,

We have an intern at the TPWD DFW office for this summer, and one of her projects will involve looking at 10 public parks in south Dallas county (locations around Duncanville, DeSoto, Lancaster, Dallas, etc...). At each park, we'll do some flora and fauna surveys -- lots of bug chasing, plant observing, and bird watching. :) We'll also do some 'human dimensions' study -- asking some of the fellow park visitors about their experiences with nature. We'll also have a little 'station' with some skins and skulls to maybe get some traction on folks coming to see what we're doing. We're working on a little survey/conversation piece to see how folks in south Dallas county engage with nature.

At the end of the project, we'll compare the size, management style, and human uses to the biodiversity that we document.

It should be loads of fun, and we'd love some help, if you want. We're also planning to use this data to highlight the biodiversity at our local parks -- these green places act as refuges to so many organisms!

Here are the 10 parks:
Herndon Park - Dallas 1901-1999 Alabama Ave, Dallas, TX 75216
Wonderview Park - Dallas 2400 Very, Cleaves St, Dallas, TX 75216
Glendale Park - Dallas 1515 E Ledbetter Dr, Dallas, TX 75216
Briar Gate Park - Dallas 3215 W Pentagon Pkwy, Dallas, TX 75233
Chris Paris Park - Duncanville 1223 Caravan Trail, Duncanville, TX 75116
Lakeside Park - Duncanville 500 Steger Dr, Duncanville, TX 75116
Waterview Park - Duncanville 1701-1799 Whitecliff Dr, Duncanville, TX 75137
Ernie Roberts Park - DeSoto 515 Pleasant Run Rd, DeSoto, TX 75115
Heritage Park - Lancaster 250 N Dallas Ave, Lancaster, TX 75146
Ten Mile Creek Preserve - Lancaster 900 Nokomis Road, Lancaster, TX 75146

If you're interested in helping, let me know! :) Oh, and I'll update this post with details as we get them.

Here's my cell: 214 215 5605

Again -- the main point of this is to convince/guide public land managers to manage their parks (at least partly) for wildlife. Wildlife is there -- people are there that engage with it -- so, manage for it!

Posted on June 03, 2021 00:20 by sambiology sambiology | 35 comments | Leave a comment

May 14, 2021

Who can document the most invasive species in TX???

Thanks to @aenglandbiol , we've got a new competition! Let's see who can document the MOST invasive species in Texas!!! :)

Here's Angela's post:

Get Ready! The 2021 Texas Invasive Species Bioblitz Starts Saturday, May 15!
Now that the City Nature Challenge is over, are you looking for another reason to use iNaturalist?

Saturday May 15 through Sunday May 22 is National Invasive Species Awareness Week. This is a perfect opportunity for the Texas Invasive Species Bioblitz via iNaturalist.

In 2020, we had 3,104 observations of 121 species. There were 867 observers, and 299 identifiers.

Let's see if we can beat that this year!

If you have previously submitted records of invasive plants, you might want to return to the same place and take a new observation, and mention in your notes if you think the population is expanding, contracting, or changing, and if any attempted control efforts may have had an effect. You can include a link to those previous records too.

Any observations of species from the project list that are made in Texas May 15-22, 2021 will be automatically added to this project. It's a pretty extensive species list. If you're not sure if your organism is on it, go ahead and make the observation and if it is confirmed to be on the list, it'll count!

Happy hunting!

Posted on May 14, 2021 21:01 by sambiology sambiology | 0 comments | Leave a comment

May 07, 2021

Blacklighting at LLELA - Saturday, May 15th, 7 pm until late!

Hey all,

Lots of great observations for the CNC, and I know so many folks really went all out! Wonderful stuff. Instead of resting, why not get lots of more observations?!? :)

I know @pfau_tarleton has a gathering planned for the weekend of May 15th, but for those of us that aren't able to make it, we'll do an evening of black-lighting at LLELA. It'll be interesting to see some of the overlapping species that we document in both locations.

If you'd like to come, meet at the greenhouse at LLELA close to the Jones St. entrance at around 7 pm. Here is the exact map location:
33°03'43.7"N 96°59'20.3"W
33.062126, -96.988968'43.7%22N+96%C2%B059'20.3%22W/@33.0621305,-96.9911567,927m/data=!3m2!1e3!4b1!4m13!1m6!3m5!1s0x0:0x9d531440da7e0b1c!2sLLELA+Nature+Preserve!8m2!3d33.06209!4d-96.97958!3m5!1s0x0:0x0!7e2!8m2!3d33.062126!4d-96.9889677

I'll wear a mask when close to others -- especially at the sheets. So, if you wouldn't mind, please have a mask handy as you get close to others. We'll hopefully have quite a few stations, so there will be places to spread out.

In the past, we've had some really good mothing in this location, so fingers crossed for some reasonable weather!

I'm always leaving folks off of the tag list, so please, tag others!

Posted on May 07, 2021 22:10 by sambiology sambiology | 19 comments | Leave a comment

April 24, 2021

West Texas gathering! Horrible conditions but great company.

What a joy it is to spend time with the iNat community. I know that the data we collect and the information that we document is great and all, but I think the community is where the real power of iNaturalist comes in. And hey, it feels pretty dang cool to be with fellow nature folks. :)

Around 20 folks (@austinrkelly @jcochran706 @annikaml @connlindajo @gcwarbler @tadamcochran @mikef451 @eric_keith @knightericm @pynklynx @cmeckerman @butterflies4fun @centratex @k8thegr8 @amzapp @jwn @elizrose @bosqueaaron @lovebirder @charley) showed up for the Elephant Mountain WMA gathering (from now on, I'm going to label these as gatherings rather than bioblitzes -- I want data collection to be secondary to the actual gathering). The week leading up to the gathering, I saw the dismal weather (cold front!) and catastrophic drought map... Both were present when we showed up! Nonetheless, I think we had a good time -- at least, I sure did!

The first day we gathered for some 'mothing' at the Elephant Mountain WMA registration office. I'd say it was pretty rough mothing... Cold, windy, and oh so dry. We did still document a few nice bugs. Elizabeth and I camped the first night -- and the wind did NOT let up. It blew alllll night long, and the temps were in the 30's! We also set up a few Sherman traps (live mammal traps) and caught 4 kangaroo rats!

The next morning (Saturday), we all kinda split up to venture off at the WMA and other places. We didn't have much access to the actual mountain (big horn sheep calving season still), but lots of the 'driving tour' roads and bunkhouse area was open. Despite being massively dry (like, scary dry!), I was surprised at the amount of plants and bugs and birds we spotted. Elizabeth and I went to get a few hotdogs to cook them up for the group in the evening, and we stayed in Alpine for the night.

On Saturday night/Sunday morn, we didn't catch a single mammal! Most of Sunday, Elizabeth and I drove around -- visiting Marathon and Marfa and a few places in between. One great spot was "Post Park" south of Marathon. Chuck suggested this spot, and it was great -- water! We watched some vermillion flycatchers, scott's orioles, golden fronted woodpeckers, and even a javelina sneak out from the bushes. We stayed at the hotel in Alpine again this night.

Well, we did end up bringing some rain with us on the last day (Monday). It was just enough to get our tent and sleeping bags (which we unfortunately left at the campsite) to get all wet and muddy! We caught 5 wet kangaroo rats on that last morning. We then headed off east -- making a couple stops along the way (Big Spring State Park and a couple roadside stops).

Overall, it was a challenging gathering due to the conditions, but it was just the best time ever to spend with friends. I'm so genuinely lucky to be a part of this group! Another gathering coming up in the fall -- stay tuned for details!!! :) We're leaning towards east TX -- maybe the new Neches River WMA (as suggested by both @centratex and @cosmiccat !).

Posted on April 24, 2021 00:36 by sambiology sambiology | 10 comments | Leave a comment

April 03, 2021

Back into ID'ing -- a slow process (maybe just my computer though?)

I had taken a bit of a hiatus from ID'ing observations, but with the City Nature Challenge coming up soon, I really need to get back into it.

I've mentioned it before, but ID'ing observations (or tossing on comments) is the most welcoming thing we can do especially to new iNat users! It's a great way to share our knowledge and what we've learned to teach others. And yep, I've been wrong thousands and thousands of times, but each time I've learned from my errors (albeit, I still make some!). Because there are soooo many new observations, I've had to narrow down my geographic focus to DFW (

Anyways, as I'm getting back into ID'ing, I'm noticing that it's taking a lot longer than usual. Are others experiencing this?

I'll click on "agree" or add in a new ID, and there's a pretty lengthy delay (the grey circle with rotating green) before the observation updates... It's highly likely that it's just on my end -- my internet's never been super fast and my computer is a bit slow to begin with...

Have you been experiencing this too?

Nonetheless, super important to add in some ID's! :)

Posted on April 03, 2021 03:00 by sambiology sambiology | 16 comments | Leave a comment

March 24, 2021

Paper published using iNaturalist observations! Woo hoo!

Hey all! Fairly exciting -- Amanda Neill and I have published a paper using iNaturalist observations to document a 'new' species for the state. :) Here was the observation that sparked it all:
Keep an eye out for this little plant too. It's a winter annual here in north central TX, so take closer looks at those little mustards. :)

Pre-print of accepted manuscript, subject to final revision, copyright Journal of the Botanical Research Institute of Texas (
Intended citation: Neill, A.K. & S.R. Kieschnick. 2021. Noccaea perfoliata or Microthlaspi perfoliatum (Brassicaceae), new to the flora of Texas, U.S.A. J. Bot. Res. Inst. Texas 15(1). NOTICE the volume/issue of 15(1) and not 14(2).


Amanda K. Neill Sam R. Kieschnick
Botanist-at-large DFW Urban Biologist
Krum, Texas, U.S.A. Texas Parks & Wildlife Department Dallas, Texas, U.S.A.


The nonnative plant species contentiously known as either Noccaea perfoliata or Microthlaspi perfoliatum is reported in Texas for the first time, with iNaturalist observations from Collin, Dallas, and Grayson counties.


Se reporta por primera vez para Texas con observaciones de iNaturalist de los condados de Collin, Dallas y Grayson, la especie de planta no-nativa conocida polémicamente como Noccaea perfoliata o Microthlaspi perfoliatum.

KEY WORDS: Noccaea, Microthlaspi, Coluteocarpeae, Brassicaceae, pennycress, adventive, nonnative, state record, Texas; iNaturalist.


The diminutive, herbaceous early-spring annual commonly known as claspleaf pennycress, perfoliate pennycress, or thoroughwort pennycress (Brassicaceae: Coluteocarpeae) is native to Europe, eastern Asia, and northern Africa (Al-Shehbaz 2010). Britton & Brown (1913) noted the plant’s early introduction to the western hemisphere in New York and Ontario; it is now a naturalized weed of roadsides and disturbed areas across a midsection of the eastern and central U.S., mainly from southern New England to the central Great Plains, with a few records from Washington and Idaho ( The species has been recognized since the time of Linnaeus and is unquestionably distinct, but its generic placement has been tumultuous, resulting in confounding disagreement amongst currently authoritative nomenclatural resources. This creates a difficulty in crafting the appropriate announcement of its presence in the Texas flora, and compels us to discuss the nomenclatural history of the taxon prior to the details of its discovery in the state.


The species of note was long included in the large and unruly genus Thlaspi (as T. perfoliatum L.) in North American accounts (Payson 1926; Holmgren 1971; Rollins 1993). Based on morphological characters, Meyer (1973, 1979, 2003) split Thlaspi into 12 genera, using the species in question to typify the new genus Microthlaspi (as M. perfoliatum (L.) F.K. Mey.), while also resurrecting the genus Noccaea Moench. The next two decades produced a veritable spate of molecular phylogenetic studies (well-summarized by Koch and Mummenhoff (2001) and Koch and Al-Shehbaz (2004)) that asserted the unnaturalness of Thlaspi sensu lato and supported many of Meyer’s segregate generic concepts (including Noccaea), but brought into question the monophyly of Microthlaspi. In the Flora of North America (Al-Shehbaz 2010), this species was treated as the only representative of Microthlaspi, promulgating a position still held by some respected taxonomic resources (e.g., Brassibase (Koch et al. 2020)). However, Al-Shehbaz’s generic synopsis of Noccaea (2014) subsumed Microthlaspi and nine other Meyer-segregate genera and published the new combination Noccaea perfoliata (L.) Al-Shehbaz, a name now accepted by other authoritative resources (e.g., The Global Biodiversity Information Facility’s and Kew’s Recent tribal-scale phylogenetic studies have taken contrary (Ali et al. 2016) or equivocal (Özüdoğru et al. 2019) positions, with the latter calling for more comprehensive analyses, stating, “Although we lean, at least for now, toward supporting the position of Al-Shehbaz (2014) in accepting a broad concept for Noccaea, we believe that it may not be the final answer.”
For the purposes of this state record publication, we assert Noccaea perfoliata (L.) Al-Shehbaz is the correct name for this entity, following Al-Shehbaz (2014); however, as that name has not yet been consistently adopted across authoritative platforms, we retain the synonym Microthlaspi perfoliatum (L.) F.K. Mey. in our title, hoping to provide a fair chance to every reader and indexing service for discovery and recognition.


Claspleaf pennycress—under any of its scientific names—is absent from checklists and floras of Texas (Correll & Johnston 1970; Hatch et al. 1990; Jones et al. 1997; Diggs et al. 1999; Turner et al. 2003) and checklists of nonnative plant species in Texas (Nesom 2009; Aplaca 2010). Texas was not included in the range in Al-Shehbaz’s FNA treatment (2010) or the most recent multistate regional flora for the southeastern U.S. (Weakley 2020). Other than reproduction of the recent iNaturalist observation records we cite below in detail, the species has not been mapped as occurring in Texas by any authoritative species-mapping resource or herbarium portal, such as the PLANTS Database (USDA-NRCS 2021), (Kartesz 2015),,,,, or The species has been recorded infrequently in the neighbor-states of Oklahoma, Arkansas, and Louisiana (Kartesz 2015; and according to digitized herbarium records in the TORCH and SERNEC herbarium portals), but these reported localities were not near the Texas border.
The recent appearance of claspleaf pennycress in Texas came to the attention of the first author (A.K.N.) while searching for uncommon taxon records on during Brassicaceae treatment research for the Illustrated Flora of East Texas, Vol II, in preparation by the Botanical Research Institute of Texas (BRIT) Press. iNaturalist is an immensely popular and well-curated global citizen-science biodiversity observation tool, with over 1.3 million users and more than 50 million documented observations of wild organisms (California Academy of Sciences 2020). Accessible online at or via a free stand-alone app, contribution is open to any registered user following the guidelines. Contributors document a record of organism occurrence by providing all the data one would typically expect to find on a natural history collection label, supported by one or more photographs of the organism in situ. Annotations are facilitated and encouraged; annotations in agreement can accrue to result in designation of a record’s quality as “research-grade,” and these records are shared with the Global Biodiversity Information Facility ( Skilled amateur and professional biologists have enriched iNaturalist with high-quality observations including precise geolocalities and high-resolution photographs, and while these lack the physical permanence of a museum-deposited voucher, they can be linked to records of such, if a sample of the organism is simultaneously obtained. Most importantly, the born-digital observation can be immediately uploaded for research use, while a physical voucher may take weeks or years to be processed, accessioned, and digitized for remote examination.
In the pandemic years of 2020–2021, every digital observation and specimen gained additional value, allowing timely research to continue, remote from the restrictions and risks of the physical world. As former staff of BRIT-SMU-VDB, one of the larger herbaria in the United States, we are compelled to affirm that the responsible collection of physical vouchers will forever remain integral to the growth and value of natural history collections and should be highly encouraged—when legality, conservation status, and population size allow it. However, many unusual records would have been long-delayed in recognition and collection (e.g., Singhurst et al. 2020) if the traditional methods of documentation were the only acceptable methods . Urban species records in particular may be passed over by professional biologists, but these are being documented more frequently by citizen scientists—by an order of magnitude, for some charismatic organisms (Spear et al. 2017).
Claspleaf pennycress was apparently first observed in Texas on 31 Jan 2019 by the second author (S.R.K., who also identified the species; Figs. 1–2), in the north-central part of the state in Grayson Co.; this occurrence was documented with precise geocoordinates and several high-resolution images in iNaturalist, where observations are assigned a unique number that forms the last segment of the permanent URL, i.e., S.R.K.’s Grayson Co. observation is #20000793 and can be viewed at: A second locality was documented by S.R.K. on 4 Mar 2020 in Collin Co. (iNaturalist observation 39559646) (Figs 3–5). A third observation was made by iNaturalist contributor Annika Lindqvist on 7 Mar 2020 in Dallas Co. (iNaturalist observation 39684417). The excellent quality and resolution of the images of entire plants, racemes, flowers, and maturing fruit on iNaturalist supporting these well-documented observations were sufficient for definitive determination as the fortunately-morphologically-distinctive Noccaea perfoliata (= Microthlaspi perfoliatum); Dr. Ihsan A. Al-Shehbaz at MO viewed these records and provided his expert confirmation (pers. comm. to A.K.N.).

These observations hinted at the incipient naturalization of an adventive, exotic species in our state, providing the impetus to initially submit this note based on observations alone, unconfident in our ability to obtain reproductive vouchers of this ephemeral spring annual between the continuing COVID pandemic and the enthusiastic mowing schedules apparent at two of the localities. Thankfully, we were able to return to the Collin Co. location in Mar 2021 and obtain a set of specimens for distribution by BRIT-SMU-VDB.

Herbarium voucher: U.S.A. TEXAS. Collin Co.: Lavon, Mallard Park, W of TX-78, S of park/lake access road, just E of path to rest area, 33.048415°, -96.425459°, accuracy 2 m, large population in flower and fruit, on regularly mown roadbank, in full sun, on sandy soil; with Sherardia arvensis, Medicago, Oxalis, 12 Mar 2021, S.R. Kieschnick & A.K. Neill 1751 (BRIT); Sam Kieschnick (sambiology) iNaturalist observation 71085243 (

Digital vouchers [additional locality and habitat data interpreted by A.K.N. inserted in brackets]: U.S.A. TEXAS. Collin Co.: Lavon [Mallard Park], 33.048415°, -96.425459°, accuracy 6 m, [with Medicago, Trifolium, Anemone, Veronica], 4 Mar 2020, S.R. Kieschnick (sambiology) iNaturalist observation 39559646 ( Lavon [Mallard Park], 33.048415°, -96.425459°, accuracy 6 m, 5 Mar 2021, A.K. Neill (aneill) iNaturalist observation 71287992 (
Dallas Co.: Ferris [Parkinson Rd., S of Tenmile Creek], 32.563171°, -96.62362°, accuracy 6 m, 7 Mar 2020, Annika Lindqvist (annikaml) iNaturalist observation 39684417 ( Grayson Co.: Howe [Bicentennial Park, W of I-75, just S of southern baseball diamond], 33.51114°, -96.618564°, accuracy 4 m, [on regularly mown field, in full sun, at top of slope to adjacent creek drainage; with Sherardia arvensis, Soliva, other spring weeds], 31 Jan 2019, S.R. Kieschnick (sambiology) iNaturalist observation 20000793 (

We encourage other botanists in the state, particularly in northeast Texas, to be alert for this species, and to document any additional populations with herbarium vouchers and concurrent iNaturalist observations. Herbarium searches may uncover other records in the state. Specimens might be misidentified as Capsella bursa-pastoris (L.) Medik. or Thlaspi arvense L., due to similarities in winter-annual habit, clasping-auriculate stem leaves, flattened obcordate silicles with winged margins, and white corollas less than 5 mm long. Capsella bursa-pastoris is stellate-pubescent, with basal leaves pinnately lobed or runcinate, and cuneate fruit bases, whereas N. perfoliata is nearly glabrous, with basal leaves obtusely dentate or entire, and obtuse fruit bases. Thlaspi arvense fruits are held perpendicularly, and have wide marginal wings (3.5–5 mm wide near apex) and a narrow, deep apical notch (to 5 mm deep), and the seed coats are concentrically striate, but N. perfoliata fruits are held more horizontally, and have narrower wings (1–2 mm wide near apex) and a wider, shallower apical notch (1–1.5 mm deep), and the seed coats are smooth. Noccaea perfoliata also tends to be half the size of either of those species, with stems typically less than 40 cm tall. A description follows, based on Al-Shehbaz (2010).

Description.—Noccaea perfoliata (L.) Al-Shehbaz (= Microthlaspi perfoliatum (L.) F.K. Mey.) (Figs. 1–5). Plants diminutive, herbaceous, winter annuals; glabrous and glaucous; stems to 28(–40) cm, often purple-tinged, sometimes branching; basal leaves in a loose rosette (some withered by fruiting), petiolate, blades elliptic to ovate, to 2(–2.7) cm long, apex rounded, margins entire or remotely and obtusely dentate; stem leaves alternate, sessile, ovate-cordate, to 4(–5.5) cm long, margins entire to repand or with a few obtuse teeth, bases auricled and strongly cordate-clasping (amplexicaul); racemes corymbose, several-flowered, considerably elongated in fruit; sepals 4, green with white margins, apices often pinkish or purplish; petals 4, white, 2–3.5(–4.7) mm long × 0.5–1.3 mm wide, spatulate to oblanceolate, claw obscure; stamens 6, slightly tetradynamous; fruiting pedicels slender, 2.5–8 mm long, spreading or horizontal; fruits silicles, dehiscent, sessile (lacking a gynophore), obcordate, 3–6.5(–8) mm long × (2.5–)3–6(–7) mm wide, strongly flattened perpendicular to the replum separating the two locules, the midline (valve) keeled, marginal wings narrow basally increasing to 1–2 mm wide near fruit apex, apical notch 1–1.5 mm deep; style obsolete or to 0.3 mm long, stigma capitate; ovules 4–8 per ovary; seeds ovoid, smooth, yellowish, unwinged, mucilaginous when wetted. Flowering Jan–Mar (in Texas).


The documentation of an adventive, annual, exotic weed in Texas seems an inconsequential thing amid the existential turmoil of the COVID pandemic, and it feels strange to focus on the communication of this minor botanical drama. This little plant is not generally considered noxious in North America, and is unlikely to have major economic impacts if it should naturalize in Texas; it merely joins the huge cohort of other European springtime annuals and biennials that thrive on disturbed ground and grassy, weedy roadsides—species that infrequently displace or crowd out any native plants in those already completely unnatural environments. As we consider the ease of weed propagule dispersal, we are now witnesses to the worldwide dispersal of the most noxious organism of our lifetimes. While the documentation of the SARS-CoV2 invasion is appropriately prolific, the record of it should be immortalized in all our rhetoric, perhaps especially in the typically dispassionate documentation of natural history—perhaps the only news we will still re-read, hundreds of years after it is written.


We sincerely thank Ihsan A. Al-Shehbaz for confirming the species determination and reviewing a draft of this manuscript, and for his heroic research untangling the mysteries of the mustard family. We are grateful for the organizations and funding sources that support, and thank all the citizen scientists contributing valuable observations of Texas plants. We appreciate helpful manuscript reviews from Jason Singhurst and David Lemke. Finally, we can hardly express our gratitude to all those who labored collaboratively for decades to create the standards, tools, and portals that now allow us to reap the benefits of digitized natural history collections and associated literature.


AL-SHEHBAZ, I.A. 2010. Microthlaspi. In: Flora of North America Editorial Committee, eds. Fl. North Amer. 7:599–600. Oxford Univ. Press, New York and Oxford.
AL-SHEHBAZ, I.A. 2014. A synopsis of the genus Noccaea (Coluteocarpeae, Brassicaceae). Harvard Pap. Bot. 19(1):25–51.
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Fig. 1. Claspleaf pennycress in Grayson Co., Texas, on 2019-01-31: petiolate rosette leaves and early inflorescence (photo by Sam Kieschnick; iNaturalist observation 20000793).

Fig. 2. Claspleaf pennycress in Grayson Co., Texas, on 2019-01-31: inflorescence with immature fruits (photo by Sam Kieschnick; iNaturalist observation 20000793).

Fig. 3. Claspleaf pennycress in Collin Co., Texas, on 2020-03-04: petiolate basal leaves and cordate-clasping (amplexicaul) stem leaves (photo by Sam Kieschnick; iNaturalist observation 39559646).

Fig. 4. Claspleaf pennycress in Collin Co., Texas, on 2020-03-04: cordate-clasping stem leaves and lower raceme with maturing fruits (photo by Sam Kieschnick; iNaturalist observation 39559646).

Fig. 5. Claspleaf pennycress in Collin Co., Texas, on 2020-03-04: inflorescence with immature fruits (photo by Sam Kieschnick; iNaturalist observation 39559646).

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