The continental United States has approximately 650 to 680 indigenous trees, that is, trees that grew here naturally before the arrival of European settlers. Texas has 33 to 45 percent of the native tree species of the United States, with approximately 30 species that have become naturalized.
Benny J. Simpson, co-founder and former president of the Texas Native Plant Society and life-long Horticulturist, pursued his more than 40-year career at the Texas A&M Research and Extension Center in Dallas. Simpson began working at the research and extension center in Dallas in 1954 when it was the Texas Research Foundation, a private agriculture organization. In 1972, Simpson began his native plant work when Texas A&M took over operations of the center. Simpson died in 1996, leaving behind a wealth of invaluable information about Texas native plants. Simpson was legendary for his plant investigations in the wild, primarily the Trans-Pecos and far West Texas. Benny's official titles were "research scientist" and "ornamental horticulturist." He called himself a "plant hunter" and collected seeds and cuttings that he then devoted years to adapting for use in the landscape. For 20 years Simpson roamed his native Texas searching out wild trees and shrubs. Plants that are not only beautiful, but also might be able to grow in the waxy black soil of North Central Texas and survive the extremes of heat and cold that are tortuous to so many plants.
Research... Simpson's research led to nine formerly wild species of native plants being introduced into commercial production as ornamentals under Texas A&M trademarks. Among them are two species of desert willow ('Dark Storm' is pictured), a mountain sage called 'Mount Emory' and five cenizos, or Texas Sage, including the well-known 'Green Cloud'. In June of 1996, The Dallas Research and Extension Center dedicated the Benny J. Simpson Native Plant Collection in honor of Simpson. The collection demonstrates more than 20- years of Simpson's research in Dallas, representing 345 plants in 84 genera.
Literature... In addition to collaborating on published works such as "Native Texas Plants, Landscaping Region by Region", and "how to Grow Native Plants in Texas and the Southwest", Simpson wrote his won book titled 'A Field Guide to Texas Trees." The book was published in 1990 by Texas Monthly Press. The book includes 225 native Texas trees. Pictures and information on each species can be viewed at :
This web site is dedicated to the memory of Benny J. Simpson