Rejuvenating Rain


Carolina Sea Lavender

In early October, when I first discovered Carolina Sea Lavender (Limonium carolinianum) blooming at the Galveston Island State Park, it already was fading away. Despite missing the height of its flowering, I consoled myself with the thought that when next year’s summer arrived I’d know where to find the plant.

On the day before Thanksgiving, while visiting the Island for other business, I stopped by the park to see if recent rains had perked things up a bit. Halfway around one of the hiking trails, sloshing through water deep enough for boots, I discovered that ‘summer’ had come early. Sea Lavender plants were blooming again, their pretty lavender flowers a nice contrast to the sere grasses surrounding them. 

Other bits of lavender also were appearing. The bright red fruits of the Carolina Wolfberry (Lycium carolinianum) had disappeared from the landscape, no doubt consumed by the birds and other creatures who find them appealing, but warming temperatures and steady rains had encouraged new growth, and across the flats, half-inch long buds were forming.

Wolfberry bud

Scattered throughout the remnants of drought-diminished plants, their flowers seemed especially colorful. In time, their fruits will re-form: a lovely ‘second helping’ for the creatures who feed on them.

Wolfberry flower


Comments always are welcome.

35 thoughts on “Rejuvenating Rain

    1. Absolutely. If I’d been smart enough to put on my boots before leaving the car, I could have done more exploring, but it’s been so long since we’ve seen standing water, I didn’t think of it.

  1. Do you know the naturalist Loren Eiseley? His book, The Immense Journey, is one of my all-time favorites. It includes his essay “How Flowers Changed the World”, which was the first thing I thought of reading your story of the rainy renewal of these flowers. Giving thanks bigly for RAIN!

  2. The distribution map for sea lavender shows it growing primarily along and near the coast in an arc from Texas all the way up to Labrador. Gonzales County in Texas, though far from the coast, is also marked for it, so maybe I’ll encounter it there one of these days.

    1. When I looked at the iNaturalist observations, I found exactly one in Gonzales County. It was near Smiley, north and east of the town. What intrigued me is that Smiley used to be known as Smiley Lake; if you look at the map you can pick out some of the very small natural lakes in the area. I’d thought the plant might be around Palmetto State Park, but a location in sandy soil near a lake makes sense. I’ll sure look for it in the area next spring.

  3. That picture of Carolina Sea Lavender looks almost like one of those sea corals with fronds that come out to sieve goodies, and then slip back down into their little coral cubicles. Is the Wolfberry a succulent? It looks like one.

    1. Sharp eyes you have. The leaves are succulent, although the plant has woody stems. It’s a member of the same family (Solanaceae) that contains tomatoes, potatoes, and eggplant, as well as a number natives like the silverleaf nightshade. The family resemblance is easiest to spot in the fruits, at least for me. If you open up one of this plant’s berries, the seeds look remarkably like tomato seeds.

      You’re right about the sea lavender resembling one of those sea creatures. I suspect it was named for its tendency to grow near the sea, but your interpretation of the name certainly suits it.

  4. Is wolfberry a succulent? The leaves certainly do appear plump and full of water, similar to a sedum, likely from the recent rain. The sea lavender is a lovely little plant.

    1. The plant belongs in the Solanaceae; the family resemblance is most obvious in the fruits. It does have succulent leaves; they’re part of the way the plant adapts to a salty environment. They’re really quite attractive. Here, the leaves have a tinge of red, probably because of our recent cold temperatures, but they’re usually a pretty, even green.

    1. I was surprised and delighted to find these. Given the inches of rain we’re received in past days, I suspect even more blooms will appear after a day or two of sunshine. When ‘sere’ came to mind, I had to double check to be sure that rarely used word was the right one. Interestingly, I found that it’s derived from the Old English word ‘sear,’ meaning ‘dry.’ In fact, that’s exactly what we do when we sear meat: dry the outside to preserve juices.
      When it comes to grasses, I suppose we could say that drought is ‘sere-ious’!

    1. That’s exactly what it’s used for. In fact, it’s used so often that people in some areas are being asked not to pick it for their arrangements and wreaths; there are fears that people will pick it to oblivion.

    1. When I was out yesterday, it was the first time in months that I’ve seen fields and ditches filled with water. Even the freshwater ponds at one of the refuges had water; the last time I saw them, there was nothing but sloppy mud. I hope you can get some soon; it certainly does make a difference for flora and fauna alike.

  5. The petals just above that last flower remind me a bit of jade plants. I have one of those that’s been in desperate need of repotting for far too long.

    1. Those are the plant’s leaves; they are succulent, and they look remarkably like a Jade plant. I haven’t quite wrapped my mind around the way they function yet, but they hold water and expel salt depending on the plant’s needs. Like salt cedar and other plants that thrive in salty conditions, they’ve adapted wonderfully well. They’re tough little plants, too — I’ll bet your Jade is, too.

  6. What a gorgeous color! Most of our really colorful stuff has faded to shades of brown now — a gray rainy sky doesn’t help much! Eventually, we’ll get snow though, and that at least will brighten the landscape once more.

    1. We’re in that odd time of year when it seems nature can’t decide whether to go to sleep, or wake up for just a little more partying! At least we’re getting our rain. After three days of the stuff, everyone’s had at least an inch, and many people have had much more. Maybe it will result in more pretty color to share!

    1. There are hints of that same phase here, although some of our trees finally are showing some color. We’ve had a lot of rain, so those that haven’t fallen may hang on long enough to turn. In the meantime, tiny bits of color like these shine like jewels on the flats.

    1. It was quite a surprise to see the flowers blooming again. I suspect that if I hadn’t met them before, and figured out what they were, I wouldn’t have seen them this time. The effects of the rain are becoming more evident every day. Even our shrubs are putting on new growth.

  7. So many colors along the coast go unnoticed as we dash to the beach or marina or seafood shack. Just these two examples contains so much detail in hues and textures it would be easy to spend hours in such a spot.

    We’re lucky to have both of these species along the Gulf coast as well.

    Gini and are in dire need of some cleansing salt air so maybe we can find some local samples of your subjects.

    Small rain, large miracles.

    1. I hope your recovery from what an Anglophile friend would call ‘the dreaded lurgy’ is continuing apace. It’s true that even an hour or two in the fresh air — salt or otherwise — can be as rejuvenating for us as rain is for the natural world.

      You’re right about the ability of details like those in these small plants to enthrall. On this particular afternoon, I was even more enthralled by a bird I came across on the bay side of the park. I’ll be posting its photo on my other blog in a day or two, in my Poets’ Birds series; it’s a very special Curlew, indeed.

    1. Oh, Jeanie. The more I see, the more I realize just how much gets by most of us — me, included. It takes a whole lot of looking to find treasures like this. Or, at minimum, it requires taking some time to be in a place where treasure can be found.

      Both of these are lovely. Now that we’ve had a good bit of rain, I expect more fall bloomers will appear. We have some fall color now, too. It’s fun to see summer and fall coexisting.

    1. The wolfberry is related to the Goji berry that’s a familiar human food; it’s also known as the Christmas berry because of its red color. I’m hoping that more will develop in the coming month or so. The plant is a wonderful photographic subject when the leaves are plump and the berries are grape-sized.

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