Life Among the Rain Lilies

A centerpiece for nature’s table

Discovering one charming group of rain lilies (Zephyranthes chlorosolen) at the Brazoria Wildlife Refuge was immensely satisfying, but nature had another surprise in store: a second bouquet so beautifully arranged it might have been created by a professional florist.

After admiring the second clump of flowers, I turned my attention to  individual lilies scattered along the roadside, and found them teeming with life.  Emerging rain lily buds, elegant as the flowers themselves, played host to a number of tiny grasshopper nymphs who hugged the slender stems.

Among the blooms,  a dozen or more Lesser Meadow Katydid nymphs (genus Conocephalus ) roamed and nibbled.

Tempted by pollen and nectar, hoverflies joined the party.

Some insects secreted themselves within the flowers’ depths, closing the door behind them. Here, a spider or caterpillar might have been at work. Despite my curiosity, I chose to imagine a ‘Do Not Disturb” sign and moved on.

One camera-shy crab spider retreated beneath the petals so quickly I missed a clear image, but she’d found a beautiful place to await her prey. Rather than spinning a web, many of these spiders engage in lurking: snatching up unwary visitors seeking nectar or seeds.

Even a few minutes of roadside observation confirms an important truth: as much as we enjoy decorating our homes with flowers, innumerable creatures consider the flowers themselves to be their homes: places of shelter and sustenance. We’re lucky they’re willing to invite us in.

 

Comments always are welcome. Click on any image for more detail.

The Pleasure of Unexpected Treasure

Yellow rain lily (Zephyranthes pulchella)

After a friend and I discovered great swaths of bluebells and eryngo at the Brazoria Wildlife Refuge, I decided to return for a day of solo exploration, and July 4 was my opportunity. 

Stopping for a quick survey of the planted gardens, I noticed what I assumed to be a late Texas dandelion blooming in the mowed grass edging the parking lot. A second look revealed something entirely different. A yellow rain lily was glowing in the sunlight, and at the very moment I recognized it, my day was complete.

I first encountered one of these lilies at a local nature center, and spent a good bit of time trying to identify it. Later, I found patches of them at Armand Bayou, and in the process of writing about them, satisfied myself that I’d found Zephyranthes smallii.

Still, my original identification had been provisional, so I emailed a pair of photos to Thomas Adams, botanist at the Mid-Coast National Wildlife Complex, which includes the Brazoria refuge. After noting that it’s sometimes difficult to distinguish between Zephyranthes citrina and Zephyranthes pulchella, he added that, given the equal size of the stamens and the short perianth tube, it seemed likely that I had stumbled across Zephyranthes pulchella: a Texas native that historically has been found close to Brazoria County.

Other surprises would come that day, but nothing could equal this bit of explosive color — an example of floral fireworks that seemed made for a day of celebration.

 

Comments always are welcome.