anything smelly gets called camphorweed

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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