The extreme cold that hit Texas may have eased, but a much uglier phase of the recovery is beginning: A mass die off of plants that typically survive winter.
Texas Parks and Wildlife officials reported Tuesday “it is becoming evident” that evergreens were hit hard by the extended period of historic cold.
The cold weather shattered records statewide. In Corpus Christi on the Gulf Coast on Feb. 16, the low was 17 degrees, breaking the previous record of 25 from 1895..
Dallas-Fort Worth recorded its coldest three-day stretch ever, averaging 10.8 degrees from Feb. 14-16, according to WFAA. The -2 degrees temperature on Feb. 16 tied for the second coldest temperature on record.
“One may start to wonder what will happen in the following weeks and months,” the state’s Hill Country Wildlife posted on Facebook.
“This ultimately ends in cell and plant damage, and sometimes death. Physical symptoms of freezing injury include tissue browning, blackening, wilting and curling of leaves and stems.”
The freezing hurt the state’s evergreens on a cellular level, experts say, “which results in fluids leaking from the cells drying out the leaves.”
Some plants will recover, but it depends on how severely the were “injured” by the cold, the department says. Areas that saw the worst cold will likely see the most damage, experts say.
“In a lot of cases, the plant will drop its leaves and regrow new leaves in the following spring. Unfortunately, this is not always the case and plants may not recover,” the department said.
The cold impacted nearly all the state, with snow falling “in all but eight of the state’s 254 counties,” Successful Farming reports. Crops in the state were also damaged “in a historic way” by the cold, the Texas A&M Extension says.
State experts suggest homeowners replace dead greenery with native plants ”for the greatest opportunity for survival should more crazy weather present itself.