Portraits of Wildflowers

Perspectives on Nature Photography

Archive for August 1st, 2012

Sex mania

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Click for greater clarity.

Now you’re privy to one of the in-jokes of native plant people in central Texas, who rarely seem able to resist taking the name of this flower, zexmenia, and recasting it as sex mania. You can hardly blame them, as they’re just following in the footsteps of the botanist(s) who, according to David Hollombe, created zexmenia in the first place by rearranging the letters in the last name of the mining engineer and Mexican rebel officer José Mariano Ximénez* (1781-1811) and adding an -a at the end.

Sex mania may go on forever, but scientific names are not always so long-lived. This wildflower, once classified as Zexmenia hispida, is now known as Wedelia texana. The epithet hispida means hairy, which the foliage and long flower stems are, and texana is a reference to the fact that in the United States this species grows only in Texas (it’s found in Mexico as well). One thing that distinguishes zexmenia from almost all of the other DYCs, or darn yellow composites, in central Texas, is that the color of its flowers usually verges on orange.

Like the previous picture, I took this one along the west side of Bluegrass Dr. in my Great Hills neighborhood of Austin on June 8.


* All the references I’ve found give the family name as Jiménez, but Ximénez was an older spelling.

© 2012 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

August 1, 2012 at 6:11 AM

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