Today’s batch of plant photos comes from Rik Gern of Austin, Texas. His narration is indented, and you can click on the pictures to enlarge them.
Here is another collection of pictures of plants growing in my yard. These were prevalent in March and are either wildflowers or weeds, depending on your perspective.
The first plant, False Dayflower (Tinantia anomala) started making sporadic appearances in the back yard about ten years ago. It didn’t show up every year and when it did, it was only in small clusters, but this year it took over the back corner of the yard. I was surprised to learn that it is found only in parts of central and south Texas, and a few places in Mexico. The flowers look this striking and cartoonish only when they first bloom; after that they shrink up a bit and droop so that the purple specks in the field of green only become visible as you get closer. The young flowers are quite the attention grabbers though, as you can see from these pictures taken in mid-March. The first one looks like a frame from a Pixar animation and I half expect it to start gesturing and speaking!
The Tenpetal Thimbleweed (Anemone berlandieri) grows faster than the grass and stands above it with thick rubbery stems (third photo). Bees and butterflies seem to like it, so it’s a keeper. The petals can come in white, pink, purple, and maybe other colors.
Either this one (6) is a mutant, or they can also come with more than ten petals. I count 14 in this picture.
The prettiest flower in this series is the Purple Heart, or Wandering Jew (Tradescantia pallida). I’m not sure if this is a wildflower or was planted by the house’s previous owner, but it’s been growing in an area by the front fence for the 17 years I’ve lived here and has survived droughts, freezes, trampling and just about any other indignity you can imagine. (As I was typing the last sentence a lightbulb went off in my head—So that’s why it’s called a Wandering Jew!) Most of the pictures I’ve seen online show deep purple leaves, but apparently that has to do with the amount of sunlight it receives. This one lives in a shaded area.
Going from beauty to the beast, here is the mighty and fearsome Prickly Sow-thistle (Sonchus asper). I sent you a whole batch of Prickly Sowthistle pictures a few years ago and have remained intrigued by this plant ever since. You wouldn’t want to have too many of them around, but their shape and structure is fascinating and elegant in its own menacing way.
It is an edible plant, but I just use it as food for my imagination, so here are two photoshopped variations. (9&10). The first variation (Grumpy Thistle) shows what might happen if it spread and took over the world. The second photo (Dragon’s Eye) shows it starting to take over the universe!!!