croton capitatus

A Neenering We Will Go, Part I: Greeting Old Friends

Now that is is definitely fall and the temperatures have cooled a portion of a smidgen of a little bit, the human female is more likely to shift herself out of her chair and go for a walk. Today, she and Sigyn have decided to go see what’s what along the Neener Path by the Big, Ugly Apartments. We haven’t been down that way in a while, so I’m a bit curious myself to see if anything interesting is going on.

Ah. I think this will be a morning of seeing things we’ve seen before in other years. Sigyn calls it “Saying Hello to Old Friends.” I call it “It’s October and There’s Ragweed, What Did You Expect?”

Look at all that pollen! I’ll be sure to give this stem a good flick as I dismount, just to make sure the human female can appreciate its devotion to anemophily.

Some of the composites are better at keeping their sneezables to themselves. Bitterweed, for instance, contents itself with flowering eleven months of the year and making cows that eat it give bitter milk.

Horseweed just likes to get tall and poofy and seed itself into people’s yards.

Late-flowering thoroughwort (a ridiculous name!) is rather similar visually, though the plants have larger leaves and the flowers are white enough and dense enough so that it’s almost ornamental.

I’ve still made sure it drops tons of seeds in the human female’s yard every year, though.

Mistflower is more well-behaved. All it does is make patches of blue in shady spots.

Sigyn wants to pat it and cuddle it because it looks like “fuzzy fireworks”. Botanical fact: The fuzzy, threadlike bits are the styles in the tiny flowers, not the petals. There. Don’t you feel smarter?

The climbing hempvine is related and has flowers that are made the same way.

It likes wet spots and thinks the ditch along the Neener Path is a good place to be.

Peppervine is also abundant here. Sigyn likes the berries when they are unripe and pinkish.

I prefer them when they get all plump and inky black.

I still say we should sneak some into the human female’s breakfast. Sigyn says we should be nice and just dangle.

Hmm, what else is here? Ah, yes. Plenty of woolly croton. Another fuzzy thing Sigyn likes to cuddle.

I’m sensing a sunggle-pattern here. But since I am also one of the things she likes to snuggle, I am not complaining!

Well, huh. I take back what I said–not everything blooming today is something we’ve seen along this path before. This one is new:

The human female says this is something called “shoreline seapurslane”. Sigyn says the flowers look like “little stars.” I say the silly thing is about one hundred and thirty miles north of fitting its common name…

So here we are a the turn-around part of our walk, though we can stop and look at more things on the way back and–

Great Frigga’s Hairpins, Sigyn! Stop right there!!

Somewhere, there is a female persimmon tree with ripe fruits, and you nearly stepped in the big pile of seedy raccoon poop!

The human female is getting that look in her eye. If the trees in the woods have ripe fruit, the trees closer to home might have ripe, delicious fruit too. I suspect our next walk is going to be in our very own neighborhood…

(to be continued)

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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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Back to the Park! (Sigyn Speaks)

The human female and I were talking the other day, about how it’s been so long since we went out to the park in the woods.  So today we’re going!

We have a little time before the tour group she’s leading shows up.  Come on, Loki, let’s look at the flowers around the Nature Center.  I can see from the parking lot that there are a lot of colorful things blooming!

This is the butterfly garden.

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I really like this fluffy blue stuff.

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I don’t think Loki is as impressed with it as I am.

Wow!  All the pink behind me is a native grass, Pink Muhly.  Isn’t it wonderful?

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The human female planted some in our front flower bed.  Sadly, Loki got to it, and it isn’t nearly this pretty.

Most people think Wooly Croton is a weed,

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but it’s fuzzy, and actually a nice place to sit.

This plant is its relative–an they’re both relatives of Poinsettias!

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If you mentally color some of these leaves bright red, you can see the resemblance.

Now these Pentas are good and red!  They’re not native, so I sort of wish the city hadn’t planted them, but the butterflies do like them.

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And, oh!  I wish you could smell this one!  It’s Mexican marigold and it smells like sweet licorice!

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Even if we don’t find many wildflowers in the woods today, just seeing all of this near the Center has been a real treat!

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