Texas Tech Press Offers New Book for Cacti Lovers

One hundred thirty-two species, subspecies and varieties of cacti can be found in Texas. About 100 of them occur in the state’s Trans-Pecos region, one of the most cactus-rich areas of the United States. At least one kind can be found in every county of the state.

One hundred thirty-two species, subspecies and varieties of cacti can be found in Texas. About 100 of them occur in the state’s Trans-Pecos region, one of the most cactus-rich areas of the United States. At least one kind can be found in every county of the state.

A. Michael (Mike) Powell, his wife Shirley A. Powell, and James F. Weedin have written "Cacti of Texas: A Field Guide," published this month by the Texas Tech University Press, as a resource guide to every type of Texas cacti.

"The single most widespread cactus species in Texas is Opuntia leptocaulis (Christmas cholla)," said Mike Powell, professor emeritus of biology and director of the Herbarium at Sul Ross University in Abilene. "In West Texas alone, there are more than 100 species and varieties in the region, including at least 11 species and varieties of chollas, 25 species and varieties of prickly pears, and numerous others."

In "Cacti of Texas," the three authors have designed a handy reference that can be used by naturalists and hobbyists as well as serious students. Based on the comprehensive reference "Cacti of the Trans-Pecos and Adjacent Regions" published in 2004, this field guide provides briefer, less detailed treatments of the entire state’s species for educated general readers.

"More than 25 years of field, greenhouse, and laboratory work preceded the preparation of the book," said Mike Powell.

All three authors bring many years of cacti research to their work. James F. Weedin is a professor in biology/geology at the Community College of Aurora, Colo., and a research associate with the Chihuahuan Desert Research Institute. Shirley A. Powell is a retired science teacher, author and botanical illustrator.

More than 300 full-color photographs of the cacti in flower and in fruit, each placed with its description in the text, highlight the book. With her husband, Mike, Shirley Powell collected, photographed, grew and observed cactus specimens. In addition, Shirley created all of the distribution maps as well as the line drawings. Readers can identify cacti by using the color photographs of the plants, keys, distribution maps, and descriptions of the vegetative characters, flowers and fruits.

Visitors to national and state parks interested in the natural history of these preserves will find the field guide most helpful. "The book can be used to identify and read information about any and all cacti found in any of the parks in Texas," said Mike Powell.

For more information or a review copy of the book, contact Barbara Brannon, marketing manager, Texas Tech University Press, (806) 742-2982 or via e-mail at barbara.brannon@ttu.edu. Details about the book, and sample photographs, are available online at www.ttup.ttu.edu/BookPages/9780896726116.html.