Pink Flora, Pink Fauna

Ten-petal Anemone ~ Anemone berlandieri 

One of my surest signs of spring is the annual report from a friend in Wharton that ten-petal anemones are blooming in her yard. When she mentions them, I know it’s time to visit my own little patch at the Brazoria refuge: a generally dependable site for seeing the flower in large numbers. 

This year, my timing was right, but when I arrived on the afternoon of February 20, I was greeted by a surprise. I expected the anemones would be white, the color I usually see, but at least half of the flowers were noticeably pink. I’ve seen occasional lavender or pink anemones in the past, but never so many at one time.

Having enjoyed the flowers, I spent some time visiting the refuge’s ponds and sloughs, where I found another form of pink preening at the water’s edge.

Too far away for sharply detailed photos, the pair of Roseate Spoonbills (Platalea ajaja) nonetheless were in the open, and great fun to watch as they used their long, flattened bills to sweep through the water, straining out whatever bits of food they found there.

Since the adults of this species lose the feathers on their heads and become a brighter pink, my guess is that these are older juveniles. Whatever their age, seeing them was a delight.

 

Comments always are welcome.

Anemones, Again

 

Ten-petal anemone bud

One of our earliest spring flowers, the ten-petal anemones (Anemone berlandieri) had begun to appear in late January, until the February freeze put an end to their eager opening. Undiscouraged, they began blooming again once temperatures moderated.

The plant’s scientific name honors French naturalist Jean Louis Berlandier, who was active in both Texas and Mexico during the 1800s, but the common name ‘ten-petal anemone’ is somewhat misleading. The plant has sepals rather than petals,, and the number of sepals can range from seven to twenty-five. This pretty white example has eleven.

In Brazoria and Galveston counties, white flowers seem to predominate, so I was pleased to find a lavender example in Palacios, and a strikingly pink flower near Cost.

No matter the color, the flower’s sepals eventually fall away, leaving the cone-like structure that gave rise to the common name ‘thimbleweed’. Eventually, the individual pistils begin to dry. The developing fruits, designed for wind dispersal, provide yet another common name for the plant: windflower.

As summer approaches, the plant becomes dormant in response to the rising heat. Their appearance may be a sign of spring, but their disappearance is a sign of summer, and the fresh set of floral delights it will bring.

 

Comments always are welcome.