Go East, Young Woman

Dawn in the Big Thicket

After years of living among Texas’s gulf prairies and marshes, and traveling primarily to the south Texas plains or the Edwards Plateau for a little variety, I finally was tempted into a third Texas ecoregion: the piney woods of east Texas.

Although I’d visited the area to search for Winkler’s Gaillardia, a rare white firewheel that grows at the Nature Conservancy’s Sandyland Sanctuary, it wasn’t until a recent guided field trip to the Sanctuary and the Watson Rare Plant Preserve that I knew a more extended trip into the area was called for.

A ranger at the Big Thicket visitor center tipped me off to an undeveloped but accessible area where I could find hundreds of sundews, another plant I was eager to locate. On Sunday morning, I returned to the spot to watch the sun rise among young long leaf pines, listening to birds whose calls I’d never heard greet the coming day.

 

 

 

Sunlight and Shadow

Fully opened flower of the Mexican primrose-willow (Ludwigia octovalvis)

When I first encountered this sweet yellow delight in roadside ditches, I had no idea how tightly its buds close after sunset. As I watched the bud in my previous image begin to unfurl, I wondered how long it would take for the flower to fully open.

Not being on a schedule, I decided to explore the field around the plant while I waited. As it turned out, the time between my photo of the bud and this photo was forty-four minutes. Even though I missed a few minutes at the start of the process, it still took less than an hour for the flower to unfurl and greet the day.

Of some interest is the fact that none of the buds began to open until touched by sunlight. Even as this flower gleamed, buds still shaded or shadowed remained tightly closed: waiting.

 

Comments always are welcome.