Celebrating with Searockets

Coastal Searocket

From neighborhood bottle rockets to the dramatic skyrockets of Independence Day fireworks shows, the sound and color of American July 4th celebrations recall the “rockets’ red glare” of our national anthem.

A different rocket — the Coastal Searocket (Cakile lanceolata) — celebrates in its own way in the sandy soils of coastal Texas.  Named for rocket-shaped pods that bear two seeds, it easily could be missed because of its low growth habits and tiny flowers.

Occuring naturally in beach dunes and coastal strands, the plant tolerates salt, drought, wind, and the inundation that comes with storm surge. Well suited for dune stabilization, it attracts a variety of bees and butterflies, and is the larval host for the Great Southern White (Ascia monuste phileta).

Like other members of the mustard family (Brassicaceae or Cruciferae), the plant’s stems and leaves are edible, either raw or cooked. That said, I doubt that many holiday parties will include a bowl of searocket next to the potato salad and coleslaw. It’s reported to be tasty, but it’s hardly traditional.

 

Comments always are welcome.

Galveston Saturday Night

Panoramic view of Galveston, Texas ~ Saturday evening, February 20
Photo by Galveston Chaser (Click to enlarge)

 

A week and a few days ago, winter came to the Texas coast.
Tonight, the snow is gone, the lights are on,
and from a distance Galveston seems to be shining in her accustomed way.
Days and weeks of work will be required to repair the damage,
but, tonight, glasses were raised in tribute to the smaller victories.
It’s the Texas Way.

Comments always are welcome.

A Pair of Dune Delights

Wedgeleaf prairie clover (Dalea emarginata) with grasshopper

I would have expected to find a bee buzzing around this pretty clover; even a butterfly, beetle, or fly would have seemed reasonable.

But the grasshopper surprised me, particularly since his flowery, less than two-inch long perch emphasized the creature’s own small size. For all his wonderful complexity, the tiny creature was the smallest grasshopper I’d ever seen.

Even as I admired the grasshopper, I found myself intrigued by the plant on which I’d found him. The low-growing, long-stemmed clusters of flowers fanning out across the dunes of a Brazoria County beach reminded me of the plant known as frogfruit, despite some obvious differences.

Eventually, thanks to a website known as the Gulf Coast Vascular Plant Gallery, I found the flower. Exploring further, I learned this native thrives primarily along Gulf beaches and coastal dune grasslands in Texas. In Louisiana, where its presence has been limited to the area between Holly Beach and Johnson’s Bayou in Cameron Parish, it’s considered rare.

Even here in Texas it seems to be uncommon, or at least little-reported. In yet another first, I found no photos of the plant on the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center site. A few reports have been recorded at iNaturalist, but even there not a single wedgeleaf prairie clover appears with a grasshopper as a companion.

 

Comments always are welcome.