Blue, Too

While the monarch butterfly I discovered sipping nectar atop a fading blue sage was lovely, the flower itself deserves a second look. Blue sage (Salvia azurea), a tall, vibrant prairie plant, pleases the human eye as surely as it attracts pollinators.

The monarch, it seemed, wasn’t alone in being attracted to the flowers. A  bend atop a still-fresh spike of flowers revealed threads of silk attached at several points along the stem. While monarchs and fritillaries stopped and sipped at nearly every blue sage, I never saw a butterfly approach this flower-laden stalk. Perhaps they saw the silk, assumed a spider, and chose to avoid the complications they might present.


Comments always are welcome.


A Mid-Migration Snack


While late October’s Maximilian sunflowers clearly appealed to the Gulf fritillary butterflies I featured in a recent post, the migrating monarchs in the same Brazoria County field seemed to prefer the flowers of Salvia azurea, commonly known as blue sage or pitcher sage.

Whether they found the salvia’s nectar more to their taste or simply enjoyed the extra wing-room the plants offered is hard to say, but seeing two beautiful butterfly species feasting on two equally beautiful plants delighted me.


Comments always are welcome.


Two Summer Surprises


Together with the bluebonnet and pink evening primrose, Indian paintbrush (Castilleja indivisa) is a traditional sign of spring across Texas. Sometimes the flowers appear as early as February. In other years, they may dally until April or May, depending on the weather.

Given the plants’ reputation as a spring wildflower, I was surprised to find a substantial patch in bloom at the Brazoria Wildlife Refuge on July 22. Wildflowers can be unpredictable, of course. There had been some rain, and I supposed the moisture might have led to some seasonal confusion for the plants. But when I returned a week later, even more paintbrush were blooming, and young plants were scattered along several roads.

Then came a second surprise. Consulting my new favorite field guide, Michael Eason’s Wildflowers of Texas, I found Indian paintbrush described as both a spring and summer bloomer. Why Eason extended the flower’s bloom time into the summer months I can’t say, but these plants, at least, suggest he was right to do so.


Comments always are welcome.