One Tree, Two Seasons

In April of 2016, the fuzzy little buds covering the nondescript tree at the Brazoria Wildlife Refuge seemed to invite touching. Both softer and more stiff than I’d imagined, they offered no hint of what they might become.

Two weeks later, with the tree in riotous bloom, identification became easier. I’d found an example of a south Texas tree commonly known as Mexican olive.

Flowers and buds of the Anacahuita, or Mexican Olive  (Cordia boissieri)

Native from the Rio Grande valley of Texas south to San Luis Potosi in Mexico, it consistently blooms year-round. Where it’s been introduced into landscapes farther north, in areas such as Austin and San Antonio, its flowering is most intense in late spring and early summer.

Through the spring of 2016, I admired its buds and flowers, but never saw the tree actually bearing fruit. Then, in July of this year, I was scanning the garden at the refuge entrance when I saw a strange, acorn-shaped object that had fallen onto the ground.

Looking up, I realized it had fallen off the Mexican olive. After more than a year, I finally had seen the completion of the tree’s natural cycle: from bud, to flower, to fruit.

Despite my fantasies about Texas tapenade, I learned the fruit is best left to birds, squirrels, deer, and livestock, since the tree is part of the Borage family and isn’t related to edible olives. Although sometimes made into jelly, its consumption can lead to side effects such as dizziness, and it’s generally considered unpalatable to humans.

That said, it’s a beautiful Texas native and a reminder that, when it comes to nature, return visits can yield unpredictable delights.

Comments always are welcome.

 

Sunlight and Shadow

Fully opened flower of the Mexican primrose-willow (Ludwigia octovalvis)

When I first encountered this sweet yellow delight in roadside ditches, I had no idea how tightly its buds close after sunset. As I watched the bud in my previous image begin to unfurl, I wondered how long it would take for the flower to fully open.

Not being on a schedule, I decided to explore the field around the plant while I waited. As it turned out, the time between my photo of the bud and this photo was forty-four minutes. Even though I missed a few minutes at the start of the process, it still took less than an hour for the flower to unfurl and greet the day.

Of some interest is the fact that none of the buds began to open until touched by sunlight. Even as this flower gleamed, buds still shaded or shadowed remained tightly closed: waiting.

 

Comments always are welcome.

 

Breaking Bud

Mexican primrose-willow (Ludwigia octovalvis) opening to greet the day

Found on a snake, adjacent bands of red and yellow call for caution. Found on a branch, adjacent splashes of red and yellow are pure pleasure.

Here, an opening bud and spent flower show off the glorious colors of Mexican primrose-willow.  Their yellow flowers and red-touched stems, buds, and sepals provide a first touch of traditional autumn color, and prove that petal-peeping can be as satisfying as leaf-peeping.

 

Comments always are welcome.