heterotheca subaxillaris

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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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 Brief Winter Walk

It’s been foggy a lot in this part of Midgard lately. The humans have ventured out on a rare sunny day to see what’s going on in the local woods.

By Idunn’s little apples!  There is a ubiquitous abundance of holly berries this year!

hollydangle

¡ǝlƃuɐp pooƃ ɐ ɹoɟ ʇods ʇɔǝɟɹǝd puɐ ʎɐp ʇɔǝɟɹǝd ɐ s,ʇᴉ ʇɐɥʇ sʞuᴉɥʇ uʎƃᴉS

It’s not just hollies that can be dangled in.

heterothecadangle

Camphorweed does just as well.  Sigyn is beyond excited–we’ve been here scarcely a quarter of an hour and she’s had the chance to dangle in plants with both her favorite colors!

(poke, poke, poke.)  Not all plants are large enough to climb in, though.  This one is growing right in the middle of the trail, and it’s very, very teeny.

tinyplant

Sigyn has fallen in love with it.   Don’t hug it, Sweetie.  The human female says it can have spiny fruit.

Oooo!   We have found A Mysterious Hole in this creek bank!

a hole

I wouldn’t go in, if I were you…  But, human female–you feel free to stick a finger in and tell us if there’s a snake or sharp-toothed rodent or something in there, all right?

We’ve been walking and poking at things for a while now.  Time for a rest.

mysleepnumberis moss

My sleep number is “moss.”

Clever Sigyn has found a different moss.

moremoss

Sigyn doesn’t know if this one’s a moss or a liverwort.

liverwort

All this green stuff looks alike to me.  Possibly one of the human female’s plant-nerd friends could sort them out, but I really don’t care.

We’re headed to the Sedge Meadow.  I like the Sedge Meadow.  It’s all green and dapply.

pathview

Sweet Glittering Bifrost!  What’s this?

trail closed

I had heard the City was Doing Something, but I wasn’t sure what…

But, since I’m a god, barricades and notices don’t apply to me.  Come along, Sigyn.  Leave the puny mortals here obeying all the signs like good little sheep and let’s you and I keep going.

Have fun staring at the signage!  We’re going to go pet sedges.

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A Fall Scramble, Part I: Here We Are Again

It is Autumn here in the northern part of Midgard–or at least, that’s what the calendar says.  I’ve been tinkering with the weather, alternating hot and cold days so that everyone has the sniffles and no one knows what to wear or what to serve for dinner.  Woolly hat or shorts and flip-flops?  Cool salad or hearty stew!  Ehehehehe!  The mortals are all cOnFUseD and there’s no end to the see-sawing in sight.

But, by the calendar, the rare plant that the human female discovered, and which she keeps an eye on, ought to be blooming.  She’s grabbed her boots and sunscreen and insect repellent and is heading for the outcrop in the next county over where the plant is to be found— if it’s up.  It is one of my warm days, and I could certainly do without being cooped up in the car with the human female for twenty minutes each way, but Sigyn really, really likes “botanizing,” so she is going.  And if Sigyn is going, I am going, because I don’t trust the human female in the field one tiny little bit.  With me along, there’s a much better chance that my sweetie comes home in one smiling piece.

(laterish)

And here we are at what the human female calls, “an outcropping of calcareous Oligocene sandstone of the Oakville formation” and what I call, “a tilty chunk of inconvenient climbiness.”

The first plant to greet us is the very conspicuous, electric blue dayflower.  It’s fairly common in this part of Midgard.  There are even some back at the house.

dayflower

They look better out here than coming up around the compost heap, though.

The human female is checking to see if the “usual suspect” plants are up where they normally are.  The redwhisker clammy-weed is right where it is every year.  The bright sun is washing out the pale pink of the petals and the bright red of the stamens.

cleome

It really is very sticky to the touch.  Sigyn, be careful as you go—I don’t know how well the sticky comes out of red velvet.

Ugh.  It really is uncomfortably warm and bright today.

hotouthere

Here is a plant I don’t recall seeing out here before.  Look at the fat, funny leaves!  The human female says it’s a cousin of the moss roses that people grow in pots.

portulaca-2

Step into the voluminous shade the human female is casting, and let us see if we can get a better photo.

portulaca

Those really are tiny flowers!  Sadly, too small for Sigyn to try on as a hat.

Great Frigga’s hairpins!  If you thought that was a tiny flower, dearest, come look at this one!

heliotropium-tenellum

Heliotropium tenellum.”  It just rolls off the tongue, doesn’t it?

This one’s not much bigger.  It’s one of the broomweeds, the human female says, either Gutierrezia texana or Amphichyris dracunculoides.

broomweed

I’m of the opinion that if she’s going to call herself a botanist, she should KNOW which one it is.  She’s making noises about tiny “pappus” this and “receptacle” that and saying that she needs to look at various bits under a microscope.  Flimsy excuses, woman, and if you need a microscope, you bring it on your various traipse-alongs, because I am not going to tote it for you.  Nor will I waste my magic summoning something you should have thought of in the first place.  Besides, I think you make up all those slanty, sciency names anyhow.

Time for some climbing!  Autumn is definitely the season for yellow daisy-family things, and here is another.  If you can believe the human female, it is part of the whole golden aster mish-mash, and it goes by the improbable name of Heterotheca subaxillaris.   The common name, camphorweed, is much less of a mouthful.

heterotheca

Sigyn, after sniffing its gland-dotted foliage, confirms that it does, in fact, smell a little granny’s-closety.

Stand over there next to that pale purple one, my love.

ruellia

Look at that!  The flowers are more than a Sigyn long!  If it didn’t have just the one blossom, I would pick it for you and make you the pointiest hat ever!

Norns’ nighties!  Are we really only halfway up?  This hill goes on forever.

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A Visit To an Old Friend

Last year the human female’s bad trotters kept her off the outcrop that’s home to the rare plant she studies.  But this year, things are a bit better, and we finally have a bit of a break in the rain, so we’re off to see if the Agalinis is blooming this year.

It’s a nice day for a drive.  I can’t wait to get there, because after being cooped up indoors with the human female for ever because of the rain, it’s just more torture to be cooped up in the car with her for another forty minutes!

The landowners aren’t home today, so we’ll have to park on the roadside at the base of the outcrop, walk down to it, and then climb up.  Do you have your sturdy shoes, Sigyn?  I would hate for you to turn your pretty ankle.

Opposite the base of the outcrop is a fence full of yellow camphorweed.

heterotheca

It smells good in the sun and is not too bad for dangling, though barbed wire and horns do not mix.

On the outcrop, the first thing that has caught my beloved’s eye is this dayflower.  Electric blue really stands out against the greens and tawny browns of the grasses.

dayflower

It appears to be a banner year for asters.  There are purple ones and an entire galaxy of white ones.

aster

The shining goldenrod is right where the human female left it last time she was here.

oligoneuron

Perennials are so predictable.

And,  yes!  Yes, there it is!  The Agalinis navasotensis is in bloom!

agalinis

Now that we know it’s in flower, the human female and her colleague will need to get down to business and count* the plants carefully and mapping their positions with a GPS unit. (GPS is Midgardian shorthand for “Gotta Pinpoint Something”).

That sounds like work.  I think I will leave it to them and just relax here on this moss tuffet.

moss

The Rightful Ruler of Midgard does NOT do fieldwork.

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* Not that I believe for a second that the human female will be of any use once she runs out of fingers

A Long-Overdue Walk in the Woods, Part II: A Few Surprises

The tree-identifying has been snoring boringly along:  yaupon holly, winged elm,  yaupon,  yaupon, post oak… one mostly-naked tree after another.

But the Park has a few surprises up its planty sleeves.

The students are losing their collective tiny mind.  The human female has told them that there are PALM trees in the Park and they think she’s crazy.

palmetto

But here’s proof.  The human female is crazy, of course, but this is undeniably a palmetto.  Sigyn and I last saw these in East Texas.

Ah.  Here is a nice “pop” of color.  (That’s something the human female says.  I have no idea what she means, but this coralberry is certainly colorful.

symphoricarpos

It’s only a foot tall, though, so dangling here just doesn’t have the thrill one can get with a taller species.

At last!  Some actual non-arboreal blossoms!  Sigyn likes this camphorweed, not only because it’s flowery, but because it is her favorite cheery yellow.

heterotheca

It’s short too, but by the end of the season, it could be four feet tall.

(later)  We’ve been traipsing up and down all morning, and it is time for a break.

Clever Sigyn!   She has found us this lovely green and reddish resting place.

salvia lyrata

The human female says it’s cancerweed.  What an ugly name for such a delightful plant.  It’s not moss, but it’ll do in a pinch.

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