sabatia campestris

Nerds in the Woods 2019, Part I: Poking at Plants

Longtime readers may recall that Sigyn and I have on more than one occasion accompanied the human female to the annual Nerds in the Woods gathering.  This is a one- or two-day event, during which nerdy naturalists seek to catalog all of the various bloomy, flappy, squiggly, crawly and otherwise organic entities in the local Lick Creek Park.

In the Olden Days, the human female used to head up the plant team.  She spared no efforts, traipsing to remote parts of the part to compile her long lists of herbiage, things with (no doubt made-up) names like “daisy fleabane,” pinweed,” “forked blue curls,” and “rosettegrass.”  Several years ago, I tipped the organizers of the event off to just how hard she worked her fellow volunteers and how tedious she is with her constant bragging about how there are “more plants in the park than anything else, blah, blah, blah…”  So they stopped inviting her.  She volunteered to help out.  They unvolunteered her.  Cue moping, which was more tedious than the endless stream of botanical trivialities.

This year, much to my astonishment and dismay, the local chapter of the Native Plant Society of Texas asked her to sit in at their table.  Oh, foolish mortals.  You will now never be free of this tiresome limpet!  Remind me to point and laugh later, when you are ready to stuff socks in her mouth to shut her up,  and remind you that you brought it on yourselves. 

Come Sigyn, let us accompany her.  I know that you are capable of strolling through the woods without nattering on, so for your sake, I will subject myself to a car ride with her.  We can always sneak away from her when we get there.

We are now here.  The NPSOT table is plunked down in the middle of a big patch of this:

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Whatever “this” is…  Do you recognize it, my love?

By Idunn’s little apples!  Sigyn says it is heartwing sorrel, a useful plant to know because the leaves are edible.  I would never have guessed.  My sweetie always knows the best things!  She even says she knows of a good recipe for potato-sorrel soup, something involving heavy cream, chicken stock, potatoes, and this little bit of the wild herbiness.  (You know, once chopped up, one bit of greenery looks much like the next.  I wonder if I could make the human female a pottage of lawn clippings and get her to eat it, telling her it was this?  I bet she’d be half a bowl in before she suspected anything amiss…)

Now the human female is wandering away from the table, tallying up the various species in evidence today.  She and Sigyn have zeroed in on this bright pink posy.

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The human female says it’s a prairie gentian.  It’s not very big, but Sigyn is even less big, so she needs a boost to see the yellow markings on the petals.  There are at least seven species in that photo–it’s a good year for wildflowers!

Come my love, let us leave the human female to her clipboard and census-taking.  While she’s peering at grasses and sedges, let us make our escape.  See–over there?  The electric blue of your favorite, spiderwort.

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The camera scarcely does them justice!

And it would not be spring without the annual Sigyn-admiring-the-scarlet-pimpernel picture.

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Sigyn is making happy squeaky noises at the minuscule yellow Sisyrinchium with the maroon eye-ring too.  She likes the flowers that are “Sigyn-sized.”  Be careful, though, dearest, as some dog-walkers have not heeded the injunction about cleaning up after their pets.  There are fire ants about, as well.

Ah.  No fire ants and no doggie “presents” up here in this juniper tree.  No, nothing but shade and sunshine and a nice breeze and some curious blue-gray berries.

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Yes, dearest, I know they’re not really berries.  They’re “fleshy female cones, each with one to four seeds and a covering of grayish wax. They have traditionally been used to season meat, especially game, and some kinds provide the flavoring for gin.”

What?  I’m not allowed to know botanical facts?  You wound me!  I am a man of many talents and much knowledge!

Also, the human female leaves her books lying about and sometimes I am really bored.

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Again With The No Mint And No Spring

The human female is doing another drive-by, quick-in-and-out visit to Minter Springs—you recall, the typically-stupidly-Midgardian-named place with no mint and no spring.

Oh, wait… I may have spoken too soon.  Sigyn has found something that smells vaguely mintish.  Is it just me, or do the flowers look like hand-puppets?

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Oh, and evidently that is a small one, because she’s found a BIGGER one to climb on.

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How bizarre—it carries its flowers in pom-poms.  I shall call this… poodle mint.

I wonder what else is here?

Well, this looks familiar. Sigyn gets excited about this plant every time she sees it.  I can’t ever remember the name.  Scarlet pumperknuckle, or something like that.

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I think we’ve seen this one before, too.  One does not readily forget such an obnoxious shade of pink.  It’s not a tall plant, but it still towers over my sweetie.

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Even these tiny doll’s daisies tower over her (if she lies on her back.)

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Isn’t there anything new here?  I’m bored.

Oh.  Well, I suppose this is different.  Little pea flowers.  The human female says this is called “pencil flower” because the beans it makes are long and skinny.

I thought it was because the flowers are the color of number two pencils…

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I’m really not comfortable, sitting here with the sun in my eyes.  However, the human female is being bitten to pieces by mosquitoes every second we are here, so it’s all good.

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A May Walk, Part III: More Flowers, All of them Pink, and a Pond

Everything seems to be trying to flower at once.  Sigyn, I know you would really like to try one of these Prairie Gentians on for a hat, but since they’re flowering among some prickly vines, I think you’d do better to look elsewhere for a bonnet today.

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Besides, that bright pink would clash dreadfully with your outfit.  Ow.  I’m stuck.  Ow.

The human female says these are wild onions.  Sigyn, do they smell like onions?

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No?  Pity.  Maybe the bulbs do…?  The human female says they do.  What? Yes, the flowers would be pretty in a salad.  You’ll have to look up whether they’re edible.

What’s that you have there?  The human female says this is the same tiny Blue-Eyed Grass we’ve been seeing all over, only big and pink instead of tiny and yellow or white.

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Lots to look at today–but we still haven’t made it to the pond yet!  At this rate, we’ll never get there.

But we are starting to see some wet-loving plants.  This sedge isn’t very showy, but it has a nifty architecture.

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Oh, and there’s the pond!  FINALLY! (With more pink flowers.)

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I hate to admit the human female is right about anything, ever, but this really is a pretty spot and is worth saving.  I have very slow, very floody, very painful plans for the human who proposes to build an apartment complex here…

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