physostegia virginiana

I Am Quite Famous in the Botanical Community

Sigyn, do you know what day it is? It’s go-to-the-outcrop-and-look-for-the-rare-plant day! The weather should be lovely, too, so grab your sunscreen and let’s go!

(a bit later)

Here we are. The human female is meeting two colleagues here. Between the three of them, they hope to get an accurate account of how many (if any) plants are blooming this year. Here comes one of the others now.

Ehehehee and neener, neener, neener! Do you know what his first utterance after “hello” was? Not, “How have you been?” Not, “How many do you think we’ll find this year?” Ha! No, what he said was, “Did Loki and his little friend come today?”

Yes, indeed we did, good sir, and thank you for putting the human female in her place!

Idunn’s little green apples! Our first Navasota false foxglove has met us right at the top rim of the outcrop, and it’s a big, well-branched one.

Now that we have all reminded ourselves what it looks like, we can start carefully quartering the outcrop and getting a good count.

Hmm. It looks as if this will not be a record-breaking year, number-wise, though it is certainly better than the worst year. Most of the plants are well-grown and flowering well, which is good to see. There’s a good growth of grass and a lot of leaf litter, however. That means it must be time to BURN this place again! Just name the day, humans, and I will be here with a torch and my fireproof cape. (Setting things on fire is FUN!)

It is like meeting old friends, seeing the usual fall plants right where we expect them to be.

The obedient plant is abundant this year. The flowers will stay in whatever position you put them in. While Sigyn dangles, I think I will try to arrange the flowers on the next plant over to spell out semaphore-wise, “the human female is a dork.” It will look something like this:

except with more pink and less yellow and red. It will be a lot of work and might take two or three plants to get in the entire message, but it will be worth it, and I will definitely have time, as it is taking the GPS forever to calculate the waypoints.

The holly at the top of the outcrop is in full fruit. Isn’t my color-coordinated sweetie cute?

Hello! What’s this? The human female says it is a wild petunia and she’s not sure she remembers seeing it out here before.

It’s not really a petunia. I guess someone thought it looked like one, though.

And this might be new, too.

It’s snow-on-the-prairie. There are only a few plants her, but I imagine that a whole roadside of it would look whitish. Great Frigga’s corset! Sigyn, do you see any mature fruit? I need seeds of this dreadfully! The human female says the sap is caustic and that’s she’s really, really sensitive to it! I want to plant it all over the yard and see if she really does swell up like a red, peeling balloon if she gets any on her. (All for science, of course.)

Oooh! What’s this? I thought junipers made little blue-green-gray fleshy cones and not these pointy, twiggy structures.

Ah. Not fruits. Sigyn, did you hear? The human female says there’s an evergreen bagworm caterpillar in each of these, all tucked up for the winter. Basically, bug hotels. Imagine if you built and lived in a case constructed of everything you ate! It’d be cherries and Cheetos and apples and…more than a little messy!

We have finished our survey of the sides of the outcrop and are ready to have a look at the top. We don’t expect to find any of the rare plant up here, but the human female says we might see other interesting plants.

There’s this. It smells vaguely minty and has small, purple, hand-puppet-shaped flowers.

The common name is “skullcap”, which doesn’t sound very nice but it is decidedly comfy to lie in. The human female is telling some tedious story now, how the little extra “flange on the calyx” is the same shape as an old-fashioned John Deere tractor seat, except that today’s students are used to tractors with enclosed cabs and AC and stereo and have no clue and..blah, blah, blah. How is anyone supposed to rest with you yapping away like that?

One last plant to look at before we wrap up the day’s investigations. I like this one! The flowers of the zizotes milkweed have a strange, alien-looking anatomy—and they have horns!

Supposedly, butterflies love them. If I hang here quietly, maybe I can catch one for Sigyn to cuddle. It’s definitely worth a wait!

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Shouldn’t Science be Slower Than This?

Eager to cram in as much botany as possible before surgery, the human female is back out in the field, doing a “quick run” to the outcrop, to see if her rare plant is in flower.  This is becoming a yearly thing.

Hmm.  There is a lot of grass on the outcrop.

grasses

This is good for prairie plants, but not so good for the rare Agalinis.  Sigyn, do you see any at all?  It will be a short trip indeed if there aren’t any.

You found some!  You have a good eye!

agalinis-16

There are a few more over here.

agalinis-h

And that’s about it.  The human female says it might be because we are so late in visiting this year.  It may also be that it’s time to burn the outcrop. She said that last year too, but didn’t do anything about it.  Typical mortal laziness–whine, whine, whine, plan, …nothing.  Total lack of follow-through.

Oh, well.  I suppose we can look around a bit while the human female makes her fruitless plans.  I think I remember some of these plants from previous visits.  It’s very quick to list them off:

Here’s the blue sage.

salvia-azurea

Careful, Sigyn!  I know you like dangling, but I don’t want you to fall!

The obedient plant  is right where it was last time (which is what you’d expect from an obedient plant.)

physostegia-fall

And here is that little cactus that Sigyn thinks is so “cute.”

mammilaria

I’m happy to poke about, because it makes Sigyn happy, but I wish there were some different plants to look at. That’s one curse of having a god-sized, photographic memory–it’s very hard to find anything new and interesting.

Oh, well.  Maybe we won’t stay long.  And I suppose I can amuse myself while we are here by inducing every chigger on this outcrop to come crawl on the human and latch on.  That will pay off in huge amusement tomorrow, and the next day, and the next…

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