Sunday, April 09, 2017

Wildflowers of Central Texas

Texas is a wildflower state. Wildflowers are found in profusion naturally (more than 5000 species flowering plants, many of them very brightly colored), they are seeded by the state along the long stretches of highways (the state of Texas has more than 800,000 acres of side-of-the-highway land, and the Department of Transportation essentially landscapes most of it as wildflower grounds), and people go wildflower hunting. There has been quite an abundance recently; I intended to get out with a camera, but haven't had the time, and the weather is not cooperating today, so I will just use Wikimedia Commons.

The star of this spring has been the evening primrose, Oenothera speciosa, also known as pinklady. It's a common enough flower in the southern United States, but Central Texas tends to get them a bit earlier than most places due to mild winters and wet springs. This year I started seeing them in late February. It's usually a shy bloom, since you usually find them here and there in tucked-away places, but it has been all over this spring.

Showy Primrose

The state flower, of course, is the Texas bluebonnet, Lupinus texensis. Because it is a standard for seeding, for obvious reasons, you always see a lot.

Texas Bluebonnet (3) (129891889)

Another bright bloom is the Indian paintbrush, Castilleja indivisa, also known as prairie-fire. Its flowers are edible, but the plant is an efficient accumulator of selenium, which means that its leaves and roots can become quite toxic.

Castilleja indivisa

The Texas purple thistle, Cirsium horridulum, has also occasionally been making an appearance.

Texas Purple Thistle

Another one I have occasionally seen is Texas star, Lindheimera texana.

Lindheimera texana-IMG 3556

Every time it rains, there's a few days in which we get the rain lily, also known as the flor de mayo. Wikimedia commons doesn't seem to have an image, but you can see it at the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center website. It's a picky flower, and, as its name suggests it likes the rain; it comes after the showers and never stays around long.

There are some notable flowers that really aren't out yet this spring, like the Indian blanket, of which I have only seen one, or the giant spiderwort or the purple cornflower. Primary wildflower season usually lasts from March through June, so we are not even halfway through.

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