Ambrosia psilostachya

Lick Creek Park and the Mystery Composite, Revisited

The human female has been kicking herself for dropping the ball on the mystery composite. So here we are all, back out at Lick Creek Park to see if we can locate the remains of the one she uprooted or, should the Norns send a miracle, another of its kind.

Botanical incompetence aside, it’s a lovely day, bright and somewhat cooler. The goldenrod is beginning to make a fine show.

I see you, Sigyn!

The camphorweed is just as enthusiastic and just as yellow.

The lobelia, in contrast, is a rather fetching shade of purplish blue.

What are you staring at so intently, my love? What is it that has you so enthralled?

Oh. The human female says the corollas are “fenestrate”. The petals are all fused together except for a slit or “window” along one side through which the stamens can be seen.

She remembered the word “fenestrate.” Maybe she’s not a total botanical failure.

Down here in the bottomlands, there is a lot of climbing hempvine. As in, A LOT, a lot.

There is also a truly staggering amount of sumpweed, ragweed, and cocklebur. All things sneezy and prickly.

Some of the southern wax myrtles are doing quite well. Sigyn loves its fragrant foliage

I really need to buy my sweetie some sunglasses.

In the really damp spots, there is knotweed and the repulsively stinky, pink-flowered camphorweed.

I know–I just said that yellow thing up there was camphorweed–and it is. This pink stuff:

is in a different genus, Pluchea. And it really does smell terrible! “Pluchea” is sort of the noise you make when you smell it. Probably meant to keep herbivores away. I know *I* wouldn’t munch on it!

Hold on! What is that?!

It’s the human female’s mystery composite! And look at how big this one is! The leaves at the top of the stem look completely different from the foliage she saw before. She has some good heads to look at, too.

And fruit! Lots of little, spikey fruit. She might actually be able to redeem herself with this!

She is reasonably certain that this is a Bidens. It all fits–compound leaves, likes wet spots, fruits each with two long awns, like antennae on a bug. It is might even be a native that just hasn’t been documented for the park before. Time to take a better-yet-not-destructive sample and go home and hit the books again.

(later)

That took forever, but the plant now has a name. It is, indeed, a Bidens. Hairy beggarticks. She thought that it would be fairly simple to figure out which one, since not all of them have rays, and of the ones that do, many have yellow rays rather than white. Of the ones with white flowers, not all have achenes with minutely barbed awns. It was keying out one way in her big, older book of Texas botany and a different way, Bidens pilosa, in the manuscript she just edited, and yet it looked just like the photos and specimens of Bidens alba she was seeing online. But the Flora of North America site doesn’t even have Bidens alba, though the USDA site does–though not for Texas. Eventually she actually read all of the material in the manuscript she edited and was reminded that newer treatments have placed plants formerly called Bidens alba into Bidens pilosa, which does grow in Texas. So, basically, she was trying to tell it from itself. It is known from East Texas and from West Texas but has not been recorded from this county before. Either no one has been poking about in the right places at the right time to find it here (less likely) or it has indeed been brought in with the construction (more likely.) The human female has never seen a live plant of it before, so I suppose she can be forgiven for not recognizing it immediately from written descriptions she worked on over a year ago.

But for the sloppy initial botany? She’s going to have to repent long and hard for that.

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Botany Lessons Before Breakfast

After a string of miserably warm and humid mornings on which NO ONE, myself least of all, wanted to get up and go for a walk that would have left the humans sweating* before we reached the end of the front walk, we have been graced by a slightly cooler dawn, so we are seizing the opportunity to get a little exercise.

We are making a short detour from the mile loop the humans call “The Long Block” and are exploring a little side street where the houses are still under construction.  Be careful, Sigyn!  There could be nails and bits of glass and broken masonry!

new lot

Odin’s eyepatch!  The side-yard-to-be is a veritable jungle of foliage and bloomery!

Most noticeable is something the human female says is called Johnsongrass.  It’s good for a dangle.

johnsongrass

See if you can shake some of that grass pollen over the human female.  She’s allergic and it’s fun to watch her eyes swell up.

There are sunflowers, though not so many nor so tall as the ones at the house.

sunflower

(The ones at the house are particularly hulking this year, and I took great pains to make sure they came up so close to the driveway that the human female has to choose between thrashing her way through them and becoming covered in pollen and chaffy bits or climbing in through the passenger side.   It never gets old.)

The black-eyed Susans are similar, but much more nearly Sigyn-sized.

rudbeckia2

Hmm.  Red, yellow, brown… Look, my love, they’re Sigyn-colored too!

As you might expect in a weedy patch, there are thistles.

thistle

Sigyn says the flower heads remind her of fireworks.  I suppose I can see that.

Let’s see what else is here.  False dandelion..

pyrrhopappus

More yellow.  This one’s partridge pea.

partridgepea

The human female says it used to bloom in late summer and early fall, but now it blooms beginning in June.  I am so weary of her whining about climate change.  Would you like me to call down Fimbulwinter, mortal?  Is that what you want?  Keep complaining and I just might.

Ehehehe!  Sigyn has discovered that partridge peas are a little too bendy to be good for dangles.

partridgepea2

But if I do a little spell that will hold the stem, they do just fine.

partridgepea3

Ah. Evening primroses.  Like the kind that were in the lawn at home.

oenothera

Sigyn and the human female are very excited.  Apparently there are some more unusual plants here too.

Yellow puff is a funny bean with poofy yellow flower clusters and leaves that close up if you touch them.

neptunia

Look, Sigyn, there it goes!  Do another one!  Do another one!

These white flowers belong to a sweet clover that should have finished flowering months ago.

melilotus

That’s Texas vervain (lavender) down below.

The little dark fruits don’t look like legumes, but technically, they are.

melilotus dangle

The human female has identified this scruffy, not-very-showy plant as goosefoot.

goosefoot

If I ever had a good with feet shaped like those leaves, I would take him to a veterinary podiatrist.

The plants are getting smaller and smaller.  This is my beloved in a patch of new western ragweed plants.

cyclospermum

And the little thread-leaved thing on the left enjoys the completely ridiculous moniker of slim-lobe celery.

This one little lot is quite the botanical bonanza.  I’m sure whatever the builder and eventual tenants plant won’t be half as interesting.

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*I don’t sweat.  Frost Giants just don’t, but heat does tend to make us testy.  Sigyn definitely doesn’t sweat.  Her hair may get just the teensiest bit frizzy in hot, humid weather, but otherwise she remains gorgeous and cheerful.  Seriously.  She is perfect.

A December Walk

The human female is taking advantage of just a bit more good weather to go for a little walk and see what’s what.  This is about the time of year that this part of Midgard gets its best fall color, which is just plain silly.  Sigyn hopes to see some today because, as you know, she is just a bit partial to the red portion of the color wheel.

Missed it by that much:

willow

Still, a bright yellow willow with its toes in the water is very nice in its own way.

Ah, here is some red!

smilax

Edges do so count!

And here is some more red.

hawthorn

The human female says these “parsley-leaved hawthorn” fruits are edible.  I am all for picking some so that the human female can make us some jam, but Sigyn would rather just do gymnastics and leave the fruits for the “birdies.”  Just as well.  I was noticing today that my cloak is a bit ragged ’round the edges.  The last thing I need is to shred it even more scrambling about in thorny bushes picking little pomes.

Is there anything actually blooming?  It’s a rare day indeed that Sigyn and the human female, between the two of them, can’t find something in flower.  Sometimes it’s just a matter of looking very closely and–

verbena

Well, there you go.  Clever girl!

Fandral’s mustache wax!  Sigyn, look at this!  This is that one–you know, the one the human female can’t abide–the one that makes mortals all sneezy and cross.  What’s it called, again?

ragweed

Oh, right.  Ragweed.  It usually flowers in October or so, but I’ve tinkered with the weather and rain enough this year that there is a nice crop of December bloomers.   Looks like it is primed and ready to churn out buckets of pollen.  Hold on tight, sweetie–I’m going to shake this stem good and hard when the human female bends down to take a closer look.  Ehehehehe!  Maybe they should call it “Snot-rag Weed!”

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