Lookin’ Out My Back Door

 

No, I wasn’t at a wildlife refuge. I wasn’t exploring a bayou, or slogging through a swamp. I was sitting at my desk when I happened to glance toward  the marina, and saw the unmistakable profile.

A quick run down the stairs took me to the water’s edge, where light from the setting sun flickered and faded. You never know, I thought. You just never know what you’re going to see — even if you’re only looking out your back door.

 

Creedence Clearwater Revival ~ lyrics, J.C. Fogerty

 

Just got home from Illinois, lock the front door, oh boy!
Got to sit down, take a rest on the porch.
Imagination sets in, pretty soon I’m singin’
Doo, doo, doo, lookin’ out my back door.
Giant doin’ cartwheels, statue wearin’ high heels,
Look at all the happy creatures dancin’ on the lawn.
Dinosaur Victrola list’nin’ to Buck Owens
Doo, doo, doo, lookin’ out my back door.
Tambourines and elephants are playin’ in the band
Won’t you take a ride on the flyin’ spoon? Doo, doo, doo
Wond’rous apparition provided by magician
Doo, doo, doo, lookin’ out my back door.
Tambourines and elephants are playin’ in the band
Won’t you take a ride on the flyin’ spoon? Doo, doo, doo
Bother me tomorrow, today, I’ll buy no sorrow
Doo, doo, doo, lookin’ out my back door.
Forward troubles Illinois, lock the front door, oh boy!
Look at all the happy creatures dancin’ on the lawn
Bother me tomorrow, today, I’ll buy no sorrow
Doo, doo, doo, lookin’ out my back door.

Comments always are welcome.

Marsh Mallows

Swamp rose mallow (Hibiscus moscheutos) ~ Big Thicket

I titled my previous post “Marsh, Mellow” as a bit of a joke. Long before I was allowed to make s’mores without adult supervision, I pronounced the name of one of the classic treat’s primary ingredients — marshmallows — as marsh ‘mellows.’ The sight of a marsh on a mellow afternoon brought it all back, and a title was born.

Over time, I’ve lost my taste for the confection, but the pronunciation lingered. Then, I met the Malvaceae: the family of plants known as mallows. Our modern marshmallows actually are the descendents of a treat made from the root of the marsh mallow (Althaea officinalis), a plant  found in Europe, Western Asia, and North Africa.

A. officinalis isn’t native to North America, but a multitude of mallows are, including the lovely swamp rose mallow at the top of this page. Surrounded  by an interesting Big Thicket plant known as ten-angled pipewort (Eriocaulon decangulare), it’s also common closer to the coast, where it’s often found along ditches and in other low-lying areas.

This mallow blooms in pink as well as white, but I’d seen only the white until I visited the Watson Rare Plant Preserve in Warren, Texas, where a single pink flower was in bloom.

Saltmarsh mallow (Kosteletzkya virginica) ~ Brazoria County

Michael Eason’s field guide to Texas wildflowers notes that another pink beauty, the saltmarsh mallow, is considered uncommon. I wouldn’t have imagined that, since the flowers are plentiful in this area, and sometimes line roadside ditches for miles. The unusual scientific name honors Vincenz Franz Kosteletzky, a botanist who worked in Prague in the 1800s.

Neches River rose mallow (Hibiscus dasycalyx) ~ Tyler County

Unlike the previous mallows, the beautiful Neches River rose mallow is considered rare. I’ve seen it only twice: once at the Pineywoods Native Plant Center in Nacogdoches, and once in Tyler County. In both instances, the flower was facing downward and not easily accessible, but enlarging the photo will give a sense of the beautiful details in its center.

Lindheimer’s sida (Sida lindheimeri) ~ Brazoria Wildlife Refuge

Lindheimer’s sida, a flower as often seen in the Texas hill country as at the coast, also belongs to the mallow family. It prefers drier conditions than some of the marsh mallows, but it often grows very near to them, especially at the edges of roads.

Known as the father of Texas botany, Ferdinand Jacob Lindheimer must have loved this tiny mallow; his daughter, Sida Rosalia Lindheimer (1860-1943) bore its name. In the 1960s, a granddaughter, Sida Martin, gave the Lindheimer home to the New Braunfels Conservation Society.  Today, a variety of mallows grow in its gardens.

 

Comments always are welcome.

Would You Prefer Breakfast or Brunch?

 

One of the more amusing plant names I’ve come across belongs to Corydalis curvisiliqua, sometimes known as curvepod or curvepod fumewort. Once a member of the Fumariaceae, or fumewort family, it’s been moved into the poppy family, but its wonderful popular name still survives: scrambled eggs.

Given the every-which-way-ness of its blooms, the name makes sense. When I found the small colony that included this plant alongside the Willow City loop on February 25, the early blooming, deer-resistant plant looked for all the world like a plate of scrambled eggs. Even had I not known the popular name, I might have described the flowers in exactly that way.

An interesting feature of the flower is the way its two outer petals enclose two inner petals which often aren’t noticed. Here, they can be seen in the bottom bloom.

To be honest, I can’t help wishing we had a biscuit-bush and some slimleaf sausage to go with the scrambled eggs.

 

Comments always are welcome.