The First Iris of Spring

 

No, it isn’t the bearded iris, that sun-loving, hardy perennial beloved of gardeners, and it isn’t the familiar blue flag, a native, clump-forming iris that thrives in marshes, swamps, wet meadows, and ditches around the country.

This small and delicate beauty, known as blue-eyed grass (Sisyrinchium spp.), isn’t a grass at all, but another member of the iris family named for its grass-like leaves. At least a dozen Texas species exist; most show a typical yellow ‘eye,’ although the color of the flowers can range from blue, to purple, to rose and white. I suspect this one, found in a Brazoria county ditch, may be Sisyrinchium augustifolium.

Several clumps of these flowers were in full bloom on February 1, and I wasn’t the only one enjoying them. This little syrphid fly found the flower to be just his size: a perfect source of nectar and pollen.

 

Comments always are welcome.

A Part and Its Whole

A single flower of the longleaf milkweed (Asclepias longifolia)

One of the less obvious delights of spring is the variety of milkweeds hidden away in grasslands and prairies. During a recent visit to my favorite nameless hayfield, I found green milkweed (A. viridis), slim milkweed (A. linearis), and an explosion of longleaf milkweeds, which look for all the world like vegetative fireworks.

Although quite different in structure from a daisy or rose, milkweed flowers provide a rich source of nectar and pollen for a variety of insects, especially native bees. For humans, they provide an unending source of visual delight.

The single flower shown above, in its larger context

 

Comments always are welcome.

 

Sympathy For A Snake

Plain-bellied water snake ~ Nerodia erythrogaster

If I’d had a machete or side arm at hand and an evil intent in my heart, this beautiful creature wouldn’t have had a chance, and it appears to know it.

Which of us was most surprised by our encounter is hard to say. Curled near the base of a tree in a pool of late spring sunshine, the snake seemed more inclined toward napping than attacking. As I changed lenses and took a few quick photos, it never moved, but fixed its gaze on me with an expression that, even at the time, seemed like supplication. I could imagine its thoughts: Please, lady…

As we looked at one another, sensing that neither of us posed a threat to the other, an ages-old enmity began to dissolve. As it did, I recognized what I was feeling, and couldn’t help smiling. Sympathy for a snake, I thought. Who could have imagined that?

 

Comments always are welcome.