Investing in Gold

November, 2022

Given recent volatility in traditional markets, not to mention the goings-on in the crypto world, it probably was inevitable that purveyors of gold would make their own run at nervous investors; their advertisements are everywhere. While I don’t intend to start stashing gold coins in the closet as a hedge against inflation, I am a great fan of gold — especially the floral variety.

Year after year, the dependable Camphor Daisy (Rayjacksonia phyllocephala) brightens our coastal landscape in nearly every month, but especially from September through January. The plant is blooming now in even our most droughty areas, and its flowers are providing nourishment for a variety of insects. Just for fun, I thought I’d look through my archives to see what past years have offered.

January, 2019

Even in January, this Calligrapher Fly (Toxomerus marginatus) and a friend found flowers in bloom. This species of hoverfly benefits gardeners; it not only sips nectar, it feeds on aphids.

January, 2019

It’s not hard to spot a Spotted Cucumber Beetle (Diabrotica undecimpunctata). This one was nibbling on the plant’s ray flowers. You can see a bit of evidence at the far left.

December, 2020

Bees of every sort adore this flower. Here, an American Bumblebee (Bombus pensylvanicus) uses its long tongue to gain nourishment.

December, 2021

More than bumblebees visit the flowers. This Southern Carpenter Bee (Xylocopa micans), still out and about in December, seems to be luxuriating in the floral wealth.

October, 2018

The soldier fly family name, Stratiomyidae, was derived from the Greek word stratiotes, or ‘soldier.’  The name refers to abdominal markings that resemble military uniform hash marks. In this species, Nemotelus kansensis, the pattern is especially clear.

January, 2019

There was a time when I believed this pretty white-striped insect was a bee; in fact, it’s a Yellow-shouldered Drone Fly (Eristalis stipator), a species of hoverfly that’s often mentioned as a bee mimic. It fooled me.

October, 2018

In the past week, all of the refuges have received from a half-inch to an inch of rain. That’s enough to coax even more gold blooms into existence, and to coax at least a few gold-lovers into investing more time with them.


Comments always are welcome.

71 thoughts on “Investing in Gold

  1. Really nice photos. There is no gold on display here. It is 19˚ and windy with a bit of snow on the ground. Once in a while the sun peeks through with a hint of goldish tint.

    1. Despite your report, it’s hard for me to grasp that real winter has arrived in so many places. We’re cold, and there have been suggestions that the Panhandle/West Texas might have a bit of snow, but everything here still is green, and even putting on new foliage after our recent dose of rain. At least you’ll be well above freezing for a couple of days around Thanksgiving.

  2. You have a beautiful portfoilio of golden treasure down there, Linda. The only gold here now is one small sunflower that came up in a potted porch plant. Mornings have been down around 26 degrees, rising into the 40s during the day.

    1. Hooray for your sunflower! They are hardy things. Around here, even after they’ve been mostly done in by cold, the right conditions can encourage a few late blooms. Your highs have been our lows; even our 50s have been chilly because of the wind. But, as they say — it is November.

    1. Aren’t they handsome? Putting these together was a good exercise, since I hadn’t yet identified a couple of the insects. That little drone fly really surprised me; it certainly does a find job of mimicry.

  3. Am I ever glad I invested in the gold here, Linda, thank you. Fantastic photos of the insects and golden flowers, and I really appreciate the insect identification too.

    1. To extend the metaphor just a bit (and a bit fancifully), the insects help to compound our interest in the flowers. I’m so glad you enjoyed the photos, Jet. Not everyone is fond of insects, but their variety fascinates me. Being able to capture their details is great fun; there’s a lot going on down there at ground level.

    1. Now I’m thinking about metallic gold. It’s made by nature, too, but it takes a good bit more effort to find and refine it. These bits of gold, once found, don’t require anything at all to be worthy of admiration. They may not last as long as a gold coin, but they’re just as beautiful.

    1. As the weather cools and so many flowers fade, these camphor daisies attract every sort of hungry insect. I’m sorry I didn’t include a spider photo here. Crab spiders especially enjoy lurking on these flowers, waiting for a bee or fly to make a nice meal for them.

  4. Ah, Linda, this cheery yellow flower is a day-brightener! I appreciate your identifying the insects, too. While we had to make an insect collection back in high school, we were somewhat limited by the species around here. Seeing these guys (some of which are probably located in my area as well) brought back that memory.

    1. Ah, yes. The insect collection. That was part of my 10th grade biology class. If you want to relive the joys of that experience, you can take an insect pinning class online. Just when I think I can’t be surprised by what’s available on YouTube, I get surprised again.

      I was glad to see this note in the promotion for the class:

      “Insect pinning, when practiced responsibly and ethically, can help us better understand and feel a connection to the biodiversity of the environment. As part of this event, we’re hosting a demonstration and conversation lead by experienced entomologists who will highlight ethical and responsible collection practices that pose no threat to insect populations at large.”

    1. It’s so nice to have something bright and cheery in the landscape as winter develops and the landscape turns brown. I realized earlier that I forgot to include a spider in the group of insects, and now it occurs to me that I forgot the skippers and other butterflies that visit these, too. Maybe I can make up for those omissions later: especially if fresh flowers begin to bloom.

  5. Well, as for me, I think your camphor daisy is a far better investment than crypto! Your photos are absolutely beautiful and it’s lovely to see all your color while I’m living in a world of white!

    1. I looked at your forecast — oh, my! At least you’re not getting the inches (or feet) of snow that are predicted for some places, but that’s darned cold. Whatever you get is going to stick around for a while. At least these bits of gold can thrive in our medium cold — and we’re glad of it. Snuggle up and take care of yourself — it’s time to ‘hygge up’!

  6. That’s a market that I’m willing to invest in! If it warms up this weekend I’ll venture into our wild areas and see if we have enough left. I would make a mint if I could bet on brown.

    1. Brown is the order of the day now in so many places, and even white where snow finally has arrived. There won’t be any searching for gold here tomorrow, as we’re expecting real rain, wind, and cold. But perhaps Sunday will be a better day, since it’s supposed to warm all the way up to 52F or so. It’s a little colder than our Novembers usually are, but bearable.

  7. You could be the visual poet laureate
    Of wildflowers whose color leans toward aureate.

    I wondered about the statement that Toxomerus flies feed on aphids. When I looked it up, I found that the larvae do that, not the adults.

    1. You’re right about the Toxomerus larvae feeding on the aphids. I wasn’t clear enough about that. It’s akin to Monarch caterpillars feeding on milkweed, while the butterflies visit an assortment of flowers.

      I don’t think I’ve come across ‘aureate.’ As soon as I read the word, I remembered a song my mother used to sing to me: “Aura Lea”. Aura Lea, of course, was the ‘maid with golden hair’ in the Civil War ballad. Since my middle name is Lee, Mom sometimes would substitute ‘Linda Lee’ into the lyrics and make me giggle.

  8. Wonderful photos! This is just the kind of gold I invest in! Good catch on the fly; I try to get a peep at their peepers: fly eyes are larger than bee eyes. But they sure look similar at times.

    1. One of the articles I read referred to the fly mimics as ‘wanna-bees.’ That’s both clever, and true. Something else that has helped me with the eyes is the fact that a fly’s eyes often aren’t separated, but touch at the top of the head.. That said, I’ve yet to manage a photo of the drone fly from the front; all I have are photos of that cute little black and white striped rear end. One of these days!

    1. Clearly they taste better, too: at least to the insects. They don’t have much of a scent, but they have more than a gold bar, and they certainly equal gold bars in terms of visual appeal!

    1. Nature does provide, sometimes aided by humans. It’s hard to grump about the tendency down here to change out the public landscaping plants so often when the ‘new’ flowers are attracting so many insects.

  9. Thar’s gold in them thar dunes!

    I am still amazed how many flowers thrive in the harsh conditions of coastal habitats. Camphor conjures up memories of strong scents used in oils to help with sore muscles. The Camphor Daisy conjures up memories of yellow blooms atop green nests between the beach and the marsh.

    As for those beautiful bugs: “All that flitters never gets old.”

    1. Campho-Phenique! Vicks Vapo-Rub! Multicebrin! All useful, and all still available for those in the know. I’m as much a fan of modern medicine as anyone, but time-tested beats fresh-from-the-lab more often than not.

      I still haven’t wrapped my mind around it yet, but thinking of salt cedar sent me exploring, and I discovered one trick of plants that do thrive in a salt-heavy environment. They expel excess salt through their leaves. I’ve occasionally wondered why salt cedar seemed so ‘dewy’ on days when other plants seemed dry. Now, I wonder if it was salt that was collecting moisture from the air. More research is required!

      Love your revision of the old aphorism. Better a flitter than a flivver!

    1. I’m increasingly aware of how many plants attract a variety of insects. I’ve tended to think mostly of the butterflies and bees, but they’re only the most visible. The spiders and snails, the beetles and true bugs all play a role, and these glorious flowers welcome them all.

    1. I used to be cautious around bumblebees: not exactly afraid of them, but given to wide-berthing them. I think it was the buzz. When the mountain laurel or wisteria’s in full bloom, the number of bees around them can be substantial enough for the sound to carry quite some distance. Now, I just grin at them. Given a choice between feasting at a flower or annoying a human, they’ll take the flower every time.

  10. That’s a prickly looking plant. Lovely golden yellow, though. The wings on that calligrapher fly are so transparent they’re almost invisible.

    1. The leaves are serrated, but they’re not especially prickly to the touch. They’re semi-succulent, too — an adaptation to their preferred sandy, salty locations. I get a kick out of bee and fly wings generally. Hoverflies often have a bit of iridescence that makes them really attractive in the sunlight.

  11. I’m a great fan of floral gold too and I reckon it’s truly valuable to the world. I can see how the Calligrapher Fly gets its name – interesting to see how its markings vary from the ‘Marmalade Fly’ that’s common over here in the UK.

    1. It’s intriguing to see how their patterns vary — and how many hoverflies there are. I just looked, and while the figure varies depending on the source, most seem to agree that there are about 6,000 syrphid fly species in the world. Can you imagine having to design that many patterns? Nature’s been busy!

    1. That’s really interesting. I’ve noticed a few other plants putting on new growth. After such dry weather, they’re clearly responding to the rain that finally has showed up. I’ll bet the pollinators in your area are pleased to see some fresh coneflowers — and it looks like you might get a bit more rain before it finally moves out.

  12. Insightful and lovely post, as usual! Glad you took the time to really admire and share this humble flower. And when my northern neighbors diss our lack of fall colors in the trees, I can respond with photos of wildflowers!

    1. It took me a few years to get over my occasional bouts of autumn-color-envy, but little by little I’ve found worthy substitutes. These are among my favorite autumn flowers. As a matter of fact, they’re a favorite winter flower, too, since they’ll happily bloom right through December into January.

        1. Good for you! I’m anxious to get down to the refuges to see how the ponds are looking there, and to see whether more flowers are blooming. Both Brazoria and San Bernard got at least an inch and a half — can’t hurt.

          1. My rain gauge here in near Katy shows 3″ accumulated over the last 3 days. That will definitely have a positive impact as it works its way south, even if not to the level of filling ponds. Happy flower hunting!

    1. Thanks, Dina! When I started casually culling my archives, it occurred to me that grouping some of these flowers together might be an appealing way to present them. I’m glad you enjoyed them!

    1. I think one of the most beautiful orangey-golds is the color of your California poppies. For orange, I’ll take the Tithonia any day, and of course all the yellows are cheerful, but there’s something about the more subtle shades that really appeals.

  13. I’ve always been a fan of yellow and orange flowers. (Ok, other colors too.) But the yellow and orange colors fairly yell, “hey you, over here!”
    Do you keyword your pics?

    1. They do attract attention, don’t they? I like the elegance of white, and reds and blues appeal, but when it comes to pink, I can take them or leave them. I guess I don’t keyword my photos, since I don’t have a clue what that is, or how to do it. I do know that it can be done in photoshop or lightroom, but I’ve never learned how to use either of those. I’ve tried, but even with a couple of instructional books and various youtubes, I just couldn’t seem to ‘get it.’

    2. Well, it’s 2 a.m., and woke up thinking, “I wonder if…” The answer is yes, I do have a way to keyword/tag my photos, if I wanted to. It just would be a matter of figuring out the system.

      1. That “if I wanted to” is the big if. I find I’m not motivated to spend the time on keywording, as I can generally find the pics I’m interested in based on my folder structure. But I have no good way of finding yellow flowers…

        1. One thing I do is add the color of the flower to my WordPress post tags — at least, when I remember. I’m in the process of going through my posts and adding the plant’s family name and color to any posts where it’s lacking.

  14. I never thought I’d acquire such investing wisdom here, but I’ve definitely become interested in gold now. You’ve shown how well it holds up over the years.

  15. I am not sure I would say that I’d rather have a garden full of Camphor Daisies instead of a bag of gold coins but the best thing would be a bag of gold coins found in a hole while planting the daisies. Of course they are not native here in the northeast and I imagine would only serve as annuals if at all. When checking out the distribution on the LBJ site I saw that there is also a Houston Camphor Daisy, R. aurea, that you must see also.

    1. Well, yes. With a bag of gold coins, I could not only buy a few Camphor Daisies, I could buy a plot of land in which to plant them. But, since that’s highly unlikely, I’ll just spend my time admiring them.

      I was curious about the Houston Camphor Daisy. I’d never heard of it. That’s not surprising, of course. There are a lot of plants I’ve not heard of, including a few I’ve eventually found I’ve been stumbling over on a regular basis. That said, I looked up R. aurea, and discovered why I’ve not heard much about it. It’s a Texas endemic with a very limited range: as in, a couple of counties. When I went to iNaturalist to see where it had been recorded, I found only twenty-seven observations of it, and only three of those were from this year. It’s included in one of my go-to books, Rare Plants of Texas. When I looked at the observations, it was interesting to notice than not a single one was in the territory I visit; most were closer in to Houston itself.

      1. I guess that if you wish to see and photograph the rarer plant your wandering range will expand a bit. Observations on iNat also include longitude and latitude coordinates so you may be able to use those to home in on one or two. Happy Hunting!

    1. There’s a certain book I know that has some advice about what kind of treasures we should lay up, and I don’t think the kind of gold represented by bitcoin or stock certificates qualified!

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