A Plant Made for Mardi Gras

The traditional colors of Mardi Gras — purple, green, and gold — usually are associated with King Cakes, beads, costumes, and masks.

But over the course of a season, the silverleaf nightshade (Solanum elaeagnifolium) displays those same colors: first in flower, then in unripened and maturing fruits.

Who knows? Perhaps in the middle of their life cycle, the plants throw a party and call out to one another, “Laissez les bonnes fleurs rouler!”

Silverleaf nightshade flower ~ Bandera County, Texas


Silverleaf nightshade fruit forming ~ Brazoria County, Texas


Silverleaf nightshade ripened fruits ~ Tallgrass Prairie Bottoms, Kansas



Comments always are welcome.



Late-Winter Blues

Narrow-leaved blue-eyed grass (Sisyrinchium angustifolium)

The spring flower known familiarly as blue-eyed grass isn’t a grass at all, but a member of the iris family.  In addition, its ‘eye’ is yellow, rather than blue, but no one seems to care, and blue-eyed grass remains its common name.

Most sources agree on March as the beginning of its bloom period, but this bud and flower were pushing the season a bit when I found them along the edge of FM 227 in Brazoria County on February 3.  The emergence of the flower at a ninety-degree angle is atypical; perhaps the bud was damaged by the cold temperatures.

While buttercups, a very few Texas dandelions, and ten-petal anemones are beginning to appear, this bit of color was a welcome surprise: a reminder that despite the continuing rain, cold, and gloom, spring is coming.


Comments always are welcome.



Meet Aristophanes


Many years ago, photographer Judy Lovell graciously allowed me to use her photo of Plato the Pelican in one of my blog posts.

I’m as fond of Plato as Judy, and still enjoy seeing him from time to time.  I never imagined I would find a bird equally striking, but in January of this year I discovered this crested caracara sitting on a fence post at the Aransas Wildlife Refuge.

Initially, I thought to name him Cicero, just for the sake of alliteration: Cicero the Caracara does have a bit of a ring to it. But every time I look at him I laugh, so Aristophanes it is. Not only was Aristophanes (c. 450 bce – c. 388 bce) a great comic playwright, one of his finest plays still is enjoyable and amusing. It’s title? The Birds.


Comments always are welcome.