agalinis heterophylla

A Neenering We Will Go, Part II: What Passes For Fall Color

We are walking back along the Neener Path. Sigyn is exclaiming about the “fall color” we are beginning to see. Now, this part of Midgard doesn’t get the blazing reds, yellows, and oranges that other parts do, but she is very cutely appreciative of what we do get.

There is just a hint of red in the Virginia creeper and the holly berries.

The shining sumac is having even more success.

We will have to remember to come back to look at it again later, since it should just get brighter and brighter as the season wears on. By the time the leaves start falling, it will match my sweetie’s outfit entirely. As it is now, she’s the brightest thing on this path.

In addition to red, there is a good deal of one particularly garish shade of pinkish purple. I speak, of course, of the beautyberry berries.

It clashes with everything!

The insides of the fruit are a rather disappointing yellowish hue. I really wish the color went all the way through, because then you could do useful things with the berries, like dye some fabric that would look hideous on the human female, or else just leave some berries in her chair to dye the seat of her shorts in lurid fuchsia spots. Pants acne!

This same color, watered down, is actually pretty common around here in the fall. The human female would say its because certain classes of anthycyanin pigments are found in a number of plants and… Blah, blah, blah–snore! Shut up and look at the flowers.

The morning glories are the same kind as the ones back at the house.

Even some of the stemmy bits are purplish.

Some of the fall-flowering beans take the color even lighter. This fuzzybean (Sigyn, did YOU name it?) does it,

and so does this tick-trefoil.

Those little beany flowers are only barely pinky-purple. We will have to come back when more of them are in fruit, because–if I remember correctly–the fruits are covered with tiny hooked hairs that cling onto everything. If I can get the human female in a fuzzy sweatshirt and off balance, one good nudge should serve to get her covered head to toe with botanical velcro bits.

Oh–here we are with the bright shade again. This is the human female’s beloved false foxglove.

That she can’t get in focus to save her life. Well, actually, it’s not her plant–that’s the one that grows on the outcrop in the next county over. This is just its more common, more glamorous cousin.

It’s like a little, pinky-purple sorting hat.

And that appears to be the end of the fall color for today. There are plenty of leaves falling, but they’re doing it without changing to anything but brown.

Some of the leave are quite large.

I’m not sure where this huge burr oak leaf blew in from; I haven’t seen one anywhere around here.

And here is the champion of all!

Not the largest sycamore leaf I’ve ever seen, but certainly big enough to make a decent party tent for someone Sigyn’s size. But no, sweetie, I don’t think you should carry it home as a souvenir. It’s a little breezy today, and if you hold that leaf up, it’s going to soar like a kite and take you with it! If you really want it, make the human female carry it.

The neighbors already think she’s weird.

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Here a Neener, There a Neener, Everywhere a Neener-neener, Part II: New Releases (and possibly some shoving)

Yesterday we looked at plants we’d already seen recently. Nice, but a bit BORING. Where are the new things? I checked the calendar. It is FALL now. Show me fall things!! I demand fall things!

Ah. This is better. False foxglove. Shows up like clockwork the third week of September.

Sigyn and I have a fondness for this plant. Well, one of it’s relatives, anyway—the rare one that grows on that outcrop to the east of us. I wonder if we’ll get to visit the outcrop again this year?

What does one call that color, anyway? Pink? Purple? Pirpkle? Whatever it is, it seems to be a theme. (Trust Texas to have non-traditional fall color!)

The Beautyberry is quite conspicuous in the understory.

Gaudy, but great for dangling. (The one at the house does not have any fruit this year, on account of I let the tree-removers drop a big oak tree on it earlier this year and it is in the process of recovering.)

The Beggar-ticks has flowers the same color, only a few shades paler.

It has typical bean-family flowers and makes interesting little legumes (one of which is visible at the left end of the stem). They’re scalloped and break up into single-seeded bits that are just covered with microscopic hooked hairs, which makes them perfect for being dispersed by furry animals or clothing. I will keep an eye on this extensive patch, come back in a few weeks when they’re good and ripe, gather up a pound or so of them, and do a little experiment to see what happens when you dump them in the washer with a load that includes socks, sweatpants, and towels. (I’m all about the science.)

Looks like the Woolly Croton is doing well this year.

It has separate male and female flowers and is very, very furry.

Hey, I have an idea! Let’s see how well the Beggar-ticks stick to the Croton! A wildflower cage-match. It’ll be brilliant! I can sell tickets. . .

Whatever else Sigyn does on a nature walk, if she gets a chance to sit in a holly, she calls it a perfect day. The fruit on this Possumhaw are about half-ripe.

A little further along the path we have yellow rather than pirpkle. Unless I’m mistaken (which I rarely am), we are looking at Camphorweed.

That’s the flower head in the photo, but the wispy foliage to the left belongs to Horseweed, and the leaves to the right to another something else. (Sigyn, are you going to play ‘He loves me; he loves me not’ with the flower? Because I can tell you, if the ‘He’ is me; he definitely, definitely DOES!)

The something else those leaves belong to is, I think, Climbing Hempvine. The human female says, “it’s our only local viney member of the sunflower family or Asteraceae.”

She also says it’s related to the Mistflower. I can see that. Both have the same fluffy flower heads. There is certainly a lot of it here, sprawling over shrubs and climbing trees. It likes wet feet, so I imagine it is very happy here in the ditch by the path.

(That’s it, human female… Lean out over the wet ditch just a little bit more for the photo and it will be my perfect day… A little bit more… One good shove…)

Odin’s eyepatch! I hate it when she catches me plotting and removes herself to safety. I really, really wanted to see her sopping wet and muddy today! Oh, well. Maybe I will have another chance for mischief on the way home…

Hmm. There’s more water next to the sidewalk on the way home, a big floody area by the part of the wetland they didn’t build Large, Ugly Apartments on. I could push her down the slope into the Bagpod bushes…

Nah. She likes the clusters of redorangeyellow flowers so much and enjoys popping the seeds out of the inflated legumes enough that she’d probably just sit happily in the water enjoying the plant.

She wouldn’t like being pushed into the Horsenettles though. They have lovely flowers, but they’re very prickly.

In fact–ouch!–this member of the Nightshade genus–ah!— is– ow!—very unpleasant to sit in! I think I shall vacate! Besides, the sun has risen enough that it has cleared the surrounding trees and buildings, and it’s making me all squinty.

I don’t like squinty.

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A Fall Scramble, Part II: Thar She Blows (Whatever The Heck That Means)

The human female is becoming a bit concerned because she hasn’t seen any of her rare flowers  yet.  I think it is one of those things, though, that you have to see the first one, and then, once your eye is trained, you start to see them everywhere.

Augh!  Now she’s squealing abominably.  I suppose that means she’s spotted some.  Yes, there they are, hiding in the tall grass.

agalinis-grass

Sigyn says she has learned how to tell the rare ones from the common ones.  The flowers can be the same color on both, but the common ones have wider leaves, and the flowers have almost no stalk at all.  It’s an over-all thickish sort of plant.

agalinis-het

The rare ones have very narrow leaves and long flower stalks, so that the whole plant is open and airy, sort of tricky to spot if it’s not in flower.

Agalinis-nav

There are some differences in the flowers, too, but you have to be as big a plant nerd as the human female to understand.  I don’t pretend to, nor do I listen when she rattles on and on about “anther placement” and “calyx sinuses” and “stigma color.”  As  Future Ruler of Midgard, such details are beneath my notice.  I’ll have minions for that.

Odin’s eyepatch! Now that she’s spotted them, the human female now proposes to walk over every inch of the outcrop and count the rare plants.  I don’t know whether to hope that there aren’t very many this year so that this will all be over quickly, or to hope that the rare plant is having a good year, even knowing that it will mean listening to the idiot woman try to remember what comes after “threety-eleven.”

This is, unfortunately, going to involve some clambering.  Sigyn insists on doing it all herself.

need-a-hand

But my love, would you not appreciate a magical boost?  Maybe just a little one?

(a bit later)

We have reached the top and completed our survey, having counted about one hundred plants, which makes this a good-ish year, though not a great one.  Now we are free to look about at other members of the flora.

This wafer-ash is also known as hop tree, presumably because of the flat fruits.  (Apparently someone thought it looked like beer-brewing hops and the name stuck.  I don’t see it myself.)

ptelea

It is very good for dangling, though the foliage is looking rather tattered.  The human female says this tree is a relative of oranges and lemons and, as such, is considered  yummy by the giant swallowtail caterpillar.  Sigyn says she would like to see one of those caterpillars.  However, they are camouflaged to look like bird droppings, and I’ve no real desire to go poking piles of bird poop to see which ones are wiggly and have legs.

But here is a good one for you, love!  (No poop-poking required!)

swallowtail-thelesperma

I actually learned this one because it has such marvelous horns.  It is the larval stage of the pipevine swallowtail.  It ought to be munching on pipevine; I’ve no idea what it thinks it is doing with this greenthread.

There really is a splendid view from up here.  I can see a good portion of the county, though the removal of a few junipers would improve the vista even more.

topview

Sigyn and the human female are still oohing and aahing and speaking in slanty names, enthusing over fall favorites such as this blue sage.

salvia azurea

I, on the other hand, propose to divest myself of my hot and heavy (though noble!) helmet and relax on this pat of moss while they fossick about.

sleepnumbermoss

Who knows?  I might even doze.  Being magnificent and knowledgeable about caterpillars is hard work. Wake me when it is time to go home.

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