The Road Warriors

One of our earliest-blooming wildflowers, pink evening primrose (Oenothera speciosa) often covers fields, highway verges, and vacant urban lots with a dazzling combination of pink and white blooms. Despite its common name, the flowers sometimes open in the morning, inviting insects such as this tumbling flower beetle (Mordella sp.) to visit.

Despite their drought tolerance, these primroses don’t flourish in the temperatures of late summer; as the heat rises, the flowers begin to disappear from the landscape.

That said, I had to smile when I found this isolated group blooming away in the middle of a caliche road. Undeterred by late July temperatures or their less than perfect soil, they clearly deserved to be honored as botanical road warriors.


Comments always are welcome.

Plant Birthdays: Pink Evening Primrose

Pink evening primrose bud

Despite the risks of repetition, I’m including this brief introduction from the first post in this series as a word of explanation for readers who might have missed it.

In A Sand County Almanac, Aldo Leopold writes:

During every week from April to September there are, on the average, ten wild plants coming into first bloom. In June as many as a dozen species may burst their buds on a single day. No man can heed all of these anniversaries; no man can ignore all of them…
Tell me of what plant-birthday a man takes notice, and I shall tell you a good deal about his vocation, his hobbies, his hay fever, and the general level of his ecological education.

The buds are bursting in Texas, and I’m doing my best to heed their arrival. To share my enjoyment of the season, I’ve decided to offer a short series of posts highlighting some of our local plant-birthdays. I hope you enjoy them, too.

When the first of this season’s pink evening primroses began to unfurl, a delighted friend took notice. “Look!” she said. “Buttercups!” I’d always thought of buttercups as yellow, but she learned ‘buttercup’ as the common name for Oenothera speciosa a pretty pink or white ground-hugging flower that carpets roadsides and fields beginning in February, and lasting well into summer.

Other common names include Mexican evening primrose, showy evening primrose, and pink ladies, but a pink evening primrose by any other name remains a widespread complement to our bluebonnets and Indian paintbrush, willing even to colonize urban construction sites and traffic medians.

In some locations, these flowers open in the evening, although ours prefer the morning. When I found this dew-touched bud south of Gonzales early on the morning of March 21, it looked for all the world as though it was poking its stigma out into the world to see if the time to unfurl had come.

Impressive as fields of these flowers can be, this single Brazoria County blossom reminds me of Henri Rousseau’s jungle paintings. Every time I look at the image, I expect to find a tiny tiger or monkey hidden within in its depths.


Comments always are welcome.


Springing Forward

During my years in Iowa, spring meant forsythia, pussy willow, violets, and tulips. Once I moved to Texas, I learned to love bluebonnets: a flower with one of the best marketing teams in the business. Together with Indian paintbrush, bluebonnets define the season for most people, and the ritual of being photographed in a field of the flowers is well-established.

But spring in Texas is more than bluebonnets. These delights, found in and around the Brazoria Wildlife Refuge on February 25, show the bold, colorful, and sometimes prickly side of a spring that’s already arrived.

The blue form of scarlet pimpernel (Anagallis arvensis f. azurea) is a lovely variation on a sometimes red or orange flower that’s native to Europe and parts of Asia, but which has naturalized worldwide. Continue reading