Portraits of Wildflowers

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Archive for July 16th, 2014

Another sensitive plant

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Neptunia pubescens Flower Head 9010

This column has brought you several pictures of sensitive-briars, whose compound leaves perform the neat trick of folding up within seconds after something touches them. A relative of those plants that has learned the same trick is Neptunia pubescens, called tropical neptunia, which makes its debut here today. Where the color of the sensitive-briar’s flowers varies from pink to violet, tropical neptunia wears bright yellow. Where the sensitive-briar’s tiny flowers are dispersed rather uniformly around the globes they form, a flower globe of tropical neptunia is asymmetric.

Neptunia pubescens grows in all and only the American states that border the Gulf of Mexico, as you can confirm on the USDA’s map. Although the Texas map there doesn’t show this species in Travis County, which is where Austin is, tropical neptunia has spread widely here over the last decade and I’ve see it in various places. The one that provided today’s picture was on Burnet Rd. near the old Merrilltown Cemetery; the date was May 28.

© 2014 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

July 16, 2014 at 5:55 AM

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