A Surprising, but Seasonal, Survivor

On February 27, just one week after the last hard freeze warning was lifted for the Houston area and any remaining snow and ice had disappeared,  this hardy, ten-petal anemone (Anemone berlandieri) was blooming beside a Brazoria County road.

In normal years, the Anemone is one of our earliest signs of spring. Appearing in late January or early February, it blooms only through April or May. Despite its apparent delicacy and small size — an inch or inch-and-a-half in diameter —  it clearly can cope with sub-freezing temperatures and icy insults.

Like other anemones, this Texas native sometimes is called ‘windflower,’ although ‘thimble flower’ is equally common. The species epithet refers to Jean Louis Berlandier (c.1805-1851), a French botanist who studied plants in Mexico and Texas.

Berlandier joined the Mexican Boundary Commission in 1826 as a botanist and zoologist. In 1829, he settled in Matamoros, Mexico, where he served as a physician and pharmacist. Unfortunately, his life ended in 1851 when, while crossing the San Fernando River on horseback, unusually swift currents pulled him under, and he wasn’t able to survive.

 

Comments always are welcome.

A Spoonful of Sotol

 

Texas Sotol (Dasylirion texanum) and Texas oaks ~ Bandera County

A variety of Sotol (Dasylirion wheeleri) found in Mexico’s Chihuahua region grows as far north as Arizona, New Mexico and extreme west Texas. A distillate made from the plant, also known as Sotol, is akin to Mezcal and Tequila, although those more familiar spirits are produced from a variety of agaves.

A succulent with long, spiny leaves, Sotol became known as ‘desert spoon’ because of concavities at the base of its leaves. Those leaves are edged with tiny, upward-pointing serrations, while its inflorescence consists of thousands of small, white flowers in a dense, vertical plume.

Tiny but dangerous spines on Texas Sotol

Another species of Sotol, Dasylirion texanum, is similar, and more common across Texas; Texas distillers are putting it to good use. One company near Austin, Desert Door, is producing a fully made-in-Texas Sotol; their website is well worth visiting — both for photos of our native Sotol and for information about their distilling process. The section related to conservation is especially interesting.

Take a closer look ~ it might be Sotol, not Yucca

When I stopped to photograph the colorful oaks along the highway outside Bandera, I assumed I’d parked next to a species of Yucca. Later, when photos revealed the serrated edges of the leaves, they served as a first clue that I’d found Sotol — another reward for exploring unfamiliar territory.

 

Comments always are welcome.