The Flower’s Basket

 

The American basket-flower (Plectocephalus americanus) is notable not only for its fragrant and delicate blooms, shown in this previous post, but also for the complex, closely-woven bracts which give the flower its common name. 

Like sunflowers, black-eyed Susans, and asters, the basket-flower belongs to a family of composite flowers known as the Asteraceae. Most have small disc flowers in their centers (the sunflower’s ‘eye’) and ray flowers (which look like petals) around the outside.

Some Asteraceae, however, have only ray flowers (dandelions) and some have only disc flowers.  American basket-flowers happen to have only disc flowers; each of their pretty pink, white, or lavender elongated corollas is attached to a developing seed. 

Seen here, in this intermediate stage between bloom and seed, drying disc flowers wrap around their basket. In time, they’ll fall away, leaving the seed to ripen, fall, or float away, ensuring next season’s beauty.

 

Comments always are welcome.

 

Dew Points

 

Although less vividly purple than another species of eryngo found in Texas (Eryngium leavenworthii), the soft greens and lilacs of the Eryngium hookeri overspreading local pastures and fields is no less delightful. A member of the carrot family and thistle-like in its prickliness, it’s often called sea holly.

On this early morning prairie, far from the sea, the only water in evidence was the dew, collecting and shining in the rising light of dawn.

 

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.

 

 

Our Uncommon Dandelion

 

From elegant bud, through glorious bloom, to familiar seed head, the Texas dandelion (Pyrrhopappus pauciflorus) adds flair to spring and early summer mornings. Also known as false dandelion, or smallflower desert-chicory, this lovely native can be breathtaking when it overspreads a country field, but even a single flower delights.

Comments always are welcome.