It's Arabideae time in Texas!

Species of the Tribe Arabideae are among the first flowers to bloom (January--March or early April). Being small and inconspicuous, they are often overlooked. Observations of Texas Arabideae are here. These species have been lumped and split, taxonomically; formerly, all were in the genus Draba.

Because of its diminutive size, Tomostima reptans is the most challenging (and most exciting) to find. It appears to be most likely seen in sandy, exposed soil with minimum competing vegetation. It's general distribution is estimated by this BONAP map, but this is incomplete.

T. reptans pictured below:

The following characteristics vary, so documenting multiple characteristics will confirm the ID. Features to capture include:

  • side view of mature fruits (pods)
  • side view of flowering stem (pedicel) from top to bottom (with hairs in focus)
  • view of leaves

Also, young plants may be challenging or impossible to identify.

👉 Key and illustrated identification guide*

*There is also a yellow-flowered species in Jeff Davis county (Trans-Pecos) which isn't in the guide: Draba standleyi

Posted on February 10, 2024 11:12 PM by pfau_tarleton pfau_tarleton


Yep, have seen some blooming and fruiting already in parts of Williamson and Burnet county over the past week. I would love to see T. reptans, but it is apparently quite rare down here, so I think one would have to be very lucky to find one.

Posted by rymcdaniel 4 months ago

This info would have been helpful to me this morning, but it was actually too drippy and soggy to do any "belly botany" at the time. Necessitates a a return trip next week. Thanks bunches for the information. BTW, the anemones are also showing up. Think of you every time I see one...

Posted by connlindajo 4 months ago

I posted several of these from my outing last weekend. They were the first I had seen this year.

Posted by birdingtexan 4 months ago

Doing some sleuthing using SEINET search portal, the herbarium records of T. reptans from Travis county appear to be misidentified. Their stems appear to have hairs.

There's a record from Williamson county that is identified correctly:
CR 442 0.8 km N of Highway 112, NE of Shiloh
[Note added later....this is wrong, see comments below-->}HOWEVER, the county is wrong! There is no Shiloh or Hwy 112 in Williamson county. This location is in Limestone Co.

Posted by pfau_tarleton 4 months ago

There is a Shiloh Community in Williamson County close to the Milam County border. There is a FM 112 also in Williamson County. Goes from Lexington in Lee Co. to Taylor Area.

Posted by connlindajo 4 months ago

Well, let's rethink this then. There is indeed a CR 442 N of Hwy 112 NE of Shiloh in Williamson County. So yall need to go there!'06.8%22N+97%C2%B010'47.0%22W/@30.501888,-97.1823089,17z/data=!3m1!4b1!4m13!1m8!3m7!1s0x8644dfd3c13dc8b1:0x887fa1d5790cf27a!2sThorndale,+TX+76577!3b1!8m2!3d30.6138101!4d-97.2055482!16zL20vMDEzbjJ3!3m3!8m2!3d30.501888!4d-97.179734?entry=ttu

And there are some cemeteries nearby, in addition to the Shiloh church grounds:
cemetery 1

cemetery 2

They may be in your yard, @connlindajo and they're so inconspicuous you never see them :) The ones I've seen were tiny whisps about an inch tall.

Posted by pfau_tarleton 4 months ago

Yep, I've done that sleuthing as well. I know they are down there in the very southeast part of Wilco (post oak savannah) as I had seen Art had collected some (he has found a lot of stuff in the county), but in the past I have not found many good places to do roadside botany in that part of the county so I stopped going since it's a bit of a drive. I have been to both of those cemeteries, and they are both pretty well maintained (Lawrence Chapel has donkeys in a gated area I think), but maybe some Drabas might make it through.

Posted by rymcdaniel 4 months ago

The places I've found them were relatively sandy (gophers and/or moles present) with exposed soil (somewhat sparse vegetation). They're so small that I'm sure they get outcompeted by denser or taller vegetation. Mowing shouldn't affect them, but KR bluestem or other non-natives I'm sure crowd them out.

Posted by pfau_tarleton 4 months ago

I saw something similar yesterday in Travis county, but I may need to return to get better photos

Posted by currenfrasch 4 months ago

I'd really like to see T. reptans, so let's get out there.

Posted by franpfer 4 months ago

I have seen some in previous years but have not yet seen them this year, but will scout around today.

Posted by bacchusrock 4 months ago

Thank you so much for creating this helpful resource!!!!!

Posted by suz 4 months ago

@currenfrasch Just to clarify, in Travis county you're mostly likely to see Tomostima cuneifolia or T. platycarpa. T. reptans, if it occurs, is probably found in the sandy areas to the east or west of the Austin area.

Posted by rymcdaniel 4 months ago

Looks great! Evidently, I've seen all five species. I guess I never uploaded my T. platycarpa observations, though.

Posted by nathantaylor 4 months ago

Found some Tomostima growing in rocky area, but really young. Left it at genus level.

Posted by bacchusrock 4 months ago
Posted by franpfer 4 months ago

@plateauville has been documenting alot of them.

Posted by rymcdaniel 4 months ago

I saw my first blooms yesterday. Probably cuneifolia, but wanted to let them grow out a bit more before documenting. I like that Carolina draba has no observations on iNat in either of the Carolinas...

Posted by bosqueaaron 4 months ago

Russell, I might go check out that spot this weekend. I looked at aerials and see some promising spots along CR 442.

Posted by knightericm 4 months ago

A majority of these that I observed in Wilson and Guadalupe counties on Sunday were about to be finished blooming already.

Posted by birdingtexan 4 months ago

I'll keep an eye out!

Posted by k8thegr8 4 months ago

Visited CR 442 in Williamson County yesterday, & its fairly brown in this area but Tomostima in flower are visible under fence lines; T. platycarpa is most prevalent starting around Blue, to Lexington, & on edges of CR 442. Not all plants had fruit/ pods, but leaves appeared mostly to be toothed. Some of my photos are iffy at documenting what's needed; looking forward to seeing what others who visit this area spot & post.

Posted by franpfer 3 months ago

A cold and windy strikeout this morning on CR 442. Was only seeing platycarpa I think. Didn't see any glabrous flowering stalks

Posted by knightericm 3 months ago

And thus continues our maniacal quest to hunt down Moby Dick...I mean T. reptans.

Posted by pfau_tarleton 3 months ago

I took a stab at locating T. reptans in Burnet County in the Inks Lake area on Thursday (2/15) and also came up with only T. platycarpa. There was an old collection record from 1949 from that area so I figured it was worth a shot.

@franpfer @knightericm Did you guys hit any of the cemeteries down by CR442 that Russell mentioned?

Posted by rymcdaniel 3 months ago

And then there is always Abdra brachycarpa (formerly Draba brachycarpa), which is also quite rare in central Texas and which @franpfer did find the other day.

Posted by rymcdaniel 3 months ago

I don't mean to brag or anything.....buuuuuut.....I found T. reptans and D. bachycarpa in the cemetery a couple of miles from my house. That makes four species of Arabideae that occur in this one cemetery. I can't emphasize how ridiculously hard it can be to see T. reptans--they can be absurdly small (pics added above). I only found 5 T. reptans and one D. brachycarpa after looking for a good while. The soil is sandy here (Anemone caroliniana occurs here also) and the vegetation is sparse (the soil is exposed).

Posted by pfau_tarleton 3 months ago

@kimberlietx See Russell's comment above regarding recent cemetery observations. Love it!!!

Posted by connlindajo 3 months ago

Congratulations Russell!

Posted by franpfer 3 months ago

We need to go back, ran out of time the other day, to check the cemeteries near CR 442 @rymcdaniel
Looked around the Shiloh Church though.

Posted by franpfer 3 months ago

@franpfer If no one beats me out there, then I may make a trip early in the week. I have been to both the Lawrence Chapel (beware the donkeys in the back gated area) and Beaukiss cemeteries (see links from Russell above) before and my very vague recollection is that they were well maintained with fairly dense vegetation covering the ground, but I could be wrong. A number of years ago I checked the possibly private small Guentzel cemetery in the area and it had one or two specimens of T. platycarpa or T. cuneifolia in it and had recently been "cleaned up" by the land owner.

It might be an interesting project to check some of the other cemeteries in sandy areas of Milam, Lee, and Bastrop counties. I have a vague recollection that the Copperas cemetery on 3403 out past Lexington might have exposed sandy ground, but couldn't say for sure.
@connlindajo might know more about those areas.

Posted by rymcdaniel 3 months ago

Well done, Russell. I don't envy the task of checking the microscopic details every tiny white flower in a cemetery. Couldn't have been easy and I'm glad you were rewarded with 4 species.

Posted by bacchusrock 3 months ago

Found them on CR 442. Went back out with better weather and lighting today. Saw maybe 10 individuals but didn't look too much more after I found the first one. my pin is pretty accurate if anyone wants to check it out. Also stopped by Beaukiss Cemetery (and found Abdra brachycarpa i think) and Laurence Chapel Cemetery. Didn't see any more T. reptans at either of those. Thanks for highlighting this species Russell! Didn't realize it was so close to Austin.

Posted by knightericm 3 months ago

@knightericm checked out your observation; all I can say is that I need more practice, and probably better glasses. :)

Posted by franpfer 3 months ago

I think I have found some T. reptans or T. platycarpa ( The stem looked glabrous near the flowers but had some hairs near the leaves.

Posted by bacchusrock 3 months ago

Congrats @knightericm, @bacchusrock! Counting myself, that's a whopping three people who have observed T. reptans in Texas this year.

Edit: make that five!



Edit: make that six!
Congrats @birdingtexan

Posted by pfau_tarleton 3 months ago

Hope they are still blooming next week when I will have the time to drive over to western Milam County.

Posted by connlindajo 3 months ago

@connlindajo I took a look around a few Lee county cemeteries yesterday, two in western Lee county (Lawhon Springs, Mesquite) and one in central Lee county (Copperas). I did not see any T. reptans, but they can easily be missed if just fruiting. At Lawhon Springs, there was only T. cuneifolia; at Mesquite there was T. platycarpa and Abdra brachycarpa, and at Copperas there was T. cuneifolia and one fruiting Abdra. None of them occurred any abundance though, and it may be a while til I get them posted. It was the first time I had seen Abdra, so that was rewarding, along with seeing two other species I had never seen before, Anemone caroliniana and Houstonia micrantha.

Posted by rymcdaniel 3 months ago

Keep an eye out for Krigia also. They're starting to bloom and should be in some of these same places.

Posted by bosqueaaron 3 months ago

@bosqueaaron Lol. Bummer. I ignored a bunch of Krigia yesterday since I was hurrying to try to find Tomostima.

Posted by rymcdaniel 3 months ago

Went looking for more. Here are two potential T. reptans ( and

Posted by bacchusrock 3 months ago

I was going to try and remember the distinguishing characters of Krigia--but lost track of that. I think the fruits were important for those, right?

Posted by pfau_tarleton 3 months ago

Yes, the fruits are one of the key characteristics to differentiate some of the species. I was just studying the krigia key last night.

Posted by birdingtexan 3 months ago

@rymcdaniel Congrats on the Abdra, Anemone, and Houstonia!!

Posted by franpfer 3 months ago

It is amazing how many Tomostima sp. are being posted on iNat at this time! Must really be a good year for them, or we are "looking with new eyes".

Posted by connlindajo 3 months ago

@rymcdaniel I agree with @franpfer. I hope you can get photos posted soon. I'll look forward to seeing them! Anemone caroliniana and Houstonia micrantha are two of my favorites.

Posted by suz 3 months ago

You all might be interested that I was able to find all three Tomostima species right next to each other near the Wichita Mnts., OK today. I also saw Abdra brachycarpa at a different site. I know it doesn't help you much in terms of location, but maybe seeing all three in the same photo will be of interest for future identification.

Posted by nathantaylor 2 months ago

That's really neat to see multiple species of a genus in sympatry.

What are your thoughts about these glabrous specimens in the rocky limestone of the western Hill Country?

There's a natural side-by-side here:

Posted by pfau_tarleton 2 months ago

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