A Night at the Winecup Hotel

Tall Poppy Mallow ~ Gonzales County, Texas

Several species popularly known as winecup or poppy mallow bloom in Texas. In my area, the Purple Poppy Mallow (Callirhoe involucrata) spreads along the ground, forming low, dense mats across prairies, fields, and roadsides. Its deep magenta, cup-shaped flowers are common from mid-spring to fall.

The closely-related Tall Poppy Mallow (Callirhoe leiocarpa), a spindly, erect plant of the hill country that often reaches a height of two to three feet, produces single blooms atop long, leafless stems like the one shown above. Its dark purplish-red to wine colored flowers close each evening, and remain permanently shut after pollination.

When I found a few Tall Poppy Mallows re-opening on the morning of April 5 outside Cost, Texas, one held a surprise. The small flower, less than an inch across, held an even smaller sleeping bee that had checked into the Winecup Hotel for the night. As I looked into the tiny cup, the bee awoke and stirred, then peered over the edge of the petals. Perhaps it was hoping for room service.


Comments always are welcome.

A Damsel, But No Distress

Powdered dancer  ~ Argia moesta
(Click image for more detail)


This delicate damselfly — a female — greeted me along the River Road between Kerrville and Center point last June after I stopped to photograph a few skeleton plants that had caught my eye.

In this case, color provided an easy key to identification. Powdered dancer males show a whitish head and thorax, but females are much more colorful: sometimes a greenish-brown, and sometimes this lovely blue.

A key to distinguishing females of this species from the blue-fronted dancer also is color: female powdered dancers exhibit lighter coloration atop their abdomens, rather than black. In addition, female powdered dancers have two cells below the stigma (the small, colored area on the wing), while a blue-fronted dancer has only one.

I remember this day as sunny, but it must have been warm, as well, since an interesting feature of this species is that blue forms become gray when temperatures are cool.


Comments always are welcome.