nature

Big Green Brain Thingies

On a previous visit to the outcrop, Sigyn and I encountered the botanical equivalent of the human female’s brain.

Today, we have encountered the same strangeness again.   There’s a tree near where the car is parked, and it has dropped a number of heavy, green, brain fruits.

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They really do look like brains—or something from another planet (not Asgard–I think I would remember something like this!)

The human female says that there are seeds inside, buried in the sticky gluey fibers.   But what would want to chew through all the brain matter to get to them?  What is the dispersal agent for these things?  They tend to fall off and land right under the tree, which is an inferior reproductive strategy.  (Even I could tell you that.)

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She says that scientists believe that there had to be something at one time that was very large and capable of eating these things without too much chewing, so that the seeds would come out intact in its… um… “poo.”

She says the front runner theory says it was Giant Ground Sloths.  Now she’s just making stuff up.  Odin’s eyepatch, woman!  If you don’t know, just SAY so.

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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.

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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.

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

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

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Perennials are so predictable.

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

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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.

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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

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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My Favorite Fall Color, Part II: Mostly Yellow (Sigyn Speaks)

I know, I know!  I don’t usually post two days in a row, but I just love fall flowers so much!!

Yesterday I showed you the red ones, and they were beautiful, but fall is also the time for my second favorite color.  Yellow!

No one can be uncheered with sunflowers around.

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They followed the human female home from work as seeds in a bucket of  pressed-flower compost material.  Now they’re all over the lot, mostly because the human female leaves them up until the birds have nibbled out all of the seeds at the end of the season.  Those birds spill quite a few seeds (messy eaters!), so there are always more the next year.

She grew this senna from a tiny seed.  Well, a big-enough seed, I guess, because it makes beans, but tiny when compared with the overall size of the plant.

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The whole bush is about six feet tall now.  It’s not terribly cold hardy, but the flowers are such a nice color!

And the flowers of this tropical milkweed are double-extra pretty because they are red AND yellow.  The butterflies love them!   They have an icky-sticky sap, though, so I’m always careful touching them. 

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Don’t the flowers look like they’ve been made by a cake-decorating frosting tip?

In the front flower bed, the red and yellow lantanas are growing next to one another.  The “red” ones are such a nice color.  They start out nearly yellow and age through to red.

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And look at the flower buds!  They’re rectangular, which is something I’ve always thought is really, really cool.

There is a lot of yellow going on outside the yard, too.

“Bitterweed” is such an ugly name for such beautiful flowers.  It’s called that because cows who have eaten it give bitter milk.  But there aren’t any cows in the neighborhood, so we don’t have to worry too much about that!

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I really like how the ray florets have scalloped tips.  Fun botany fact:  what looks like an individual flower is really a whole cluster of tinier flowers.  I love all the flowers!

Which is good, because the park on the corner…

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is sort of awash with them!

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My Favorite Fall Color, Part I: Mostly Red (Sigyn Speaks)

It’s here!  It’s really here!

At long last, the calendar and East Texas are in synch–IT’S FALL!!!

The days are still warm, but I think, I think, we’ve seen the last of the really nasty heat.  The mornings are cool, the nights are sleepable, the mockingbirds are singing and swooping for territory, and it has done nothing recently but rain.  (The lawn is so happy!)

Loki and I are out for a little walk between showers.  The neighborhood is fine, but there is a lot to see right around the house.  And a lot of it is RED!

I would know it is fall if this was the only plant I saw.

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Schoolhouse lilies!  They just pop right up without leaves.  The first ones nose their way up out of the grass every year when the fall semester starts.  The human female says she started with three bulbs.   There must be many more of them by now, because the flowers pop up a few every day for weeks.  I just want to hug them!

This red sage flowers off and on all year, but it really likes fall best.

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The hummingbirds like it a lot, and so do I!  It’s pretty good for dangling.

The hummers like the Turk’s cap even better.

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I’ve always wanted to pet a hummingbird–they are just too cute, and they have the sweetest little squeaky voices!  Maybe if I put up a feeder and sat on it…

The humming birds like the morning-glories, too.  They aren’t red, but they are native, which is a good thing.

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They’ve crawled all over the compost heap’s enclosure, scrambled up the sapling hackberry by the driveway, and climbed into the neighbor’s holly tree.

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It’s very festive every morning!

They have spread down the side of the house and overrun the iris bed and the little, useless fencey bit.

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Not to mention the other side of the fencey bit and the rest of the irises.

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There are some in the front yard as well.  It all comes of not weeding very much, but what a happy accident!

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Keeping it Real

The human female needs another project like she needs a hole in the head.  I mean that—her craft room has so many UFOs (unfinished objects) that the rest of the household calls it Area 51.

Still, her little ferrety brain keeps coming up with new things she wants to do.  Recently, she decided to try designing a lot of embroideries based on wildflowers.  She made a list of plants she’d like to include.

Actually, she made several lists.

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But she missed a few.

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She’s a naturalist, so I know she’d like to stitch complete representations of the state’s flora.  And I know that she plans to pick and fondle everything before lovingly sketching and charting it.

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