White Delights: Pinewoods Rose Gentian

 

While exceptions certainly exist, most flowers in the Gentian family range from light pinks to a deeper, rosier hue. The specific epithet of the Pinewoods Rose Gentian, Sabatia gentianoides, means ‘resembling a gentian,’ suggesting that range of pinkish colors.  (The genus name honors Liberato Sabbati (1714-1778), an Italian botanist and gardener.) 

When I noticed this striking white flower in a wet area of the Big Thicket’s Sundew Trail, I thought I might have found Sabatia brevifolia, a white Sabatia species found in Florida and adjacent states. Despite both plants’ preference for boggy areas or wet pine savannahs, a closer look revealed some differences: eight petals for S. gentianoides rather than S. brevifolia‘s five, and noticeably larger flowers.

Unlike Sabatia campestris, the meadow pink common in coastal and central Texas, S. gentianoides displays flowers two or more inches wide, with seven to twelve petals. When the blooms cluster together, as they often do, they can be particularly appealing.

White forms of the meadow pink aren’t particularly common, but I have encountered them. Despite an extensive online search for a white form of the pinewoods rose gentian, I’ve yet to find a photo of another. I’m glad I found this one, tucked away in its bog.

 

Comments always are welcome.

A Delight of Basket-flowers

American basket-flower ~ Plectocephalus americanus (formerly Centaurea americana)

As spring transitioned into summer, I began to fear I had missed seeing my beloved basket-flowers this year. Finally, around mid-June, they began to appear: along abandoned rail tracks and in ditches; tucked into unmowed corners of vacant lots; lurking at the edge of a shipyard. By July, seeds I’d given to friends began to produce as well, and their reports of successful germination pleased me immensely.

Generally speaking, basket-flowers bloom a soft, lovely pink, or various shades of lavender. As they age, the intricately woven ‘basket’ containing the slender disk flowers turns golden, becoming the center of attraction as the seeds form.

Occasionally, as with this flower from a colony in Kemah, Texas, the fading bloom darkens, taking on shades of bronzed purple and red.

Sometimes, white basket-flowers appear. Near Tres Palacios Bay on Texas’s mid-coast, this lovely example stirred in the wind: a reminder of the surprising variety nature offers to even the most casual observer.

 

Comments always are welcome.

Rockport, Redux ~ Pretty in Pink

Drummond’s phlox ~ Phlox drummondii

I’ve never heard someone say, “Let’s drive out to the country to see the phlox,” but several varieties of phlox grow wild across Texas, and when they spread their sweet, pink glow across the landscape, they rival even our bluebonnets for eye-catching loveliness.

In early March, Drummond’s phlox (Phlox drummondii) was in full bloom at the Rockport City Cemetery. Named for Scottish naturalist, botanist, and explorer Thomas Drummond, the plant is only one of many that bear his name. During an expedition through Texas in 1835, Drummond shipped specimens and seeds to England, where English botanist Sir W. J. Hooker declared P. drummondii to be “decidedly among the greatest ornaments of the greenhouse in the Glasgow Botanic Garden.”

Drummond’s phlox is known for soft, hairy, and sticky leaves; enlarging the first photo shows the glandular nature of its hairs. Perhaps because of their small size the buds rarely are noticed, but their opening is a delight to behold.

 

Comments always are welcome.