Portraits of Wildflowers

Perspectives on Nature Photography

XXX: Time for the annual sex mania

with 33 comments

Zexmenia Flower Head 7473

Make that zexmenia, the native wildflower with the suggestive common name. Sex mania may not have changed, but the scientific name of this species certainly has. When I first became aware of it in 1999 it was Zexmenia hispida. Over the next decade or so it was Wedelia hispida and Wedelia texana. When I looked last month, it had become Wedelia acapulcensis var. hispida.

However many changes may yet befall the “unique” scientific name of this species, I can tell you with assurance that this photograph comes from June 8th along the Smith Memorial Trail in my northwest part of Austin. It’s three months later now and I’m still seeing a few zexmenia plants flowering here and there around town.

© 2015 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

September 6, 2015 at 5:19 AM

33 Responses

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  1. I’m curious about the word origin.

    Jim in IA

    September 6, 2015 at 7:40 AM

    • In 2011 commenter David Hollombe offered the explanation that “Ximenesia [a botanical genus] is named for Spanish apothecary Jose Salvador Ximenes Peset (1713-1803). Zexmenia is named for Mexican rebel officer Jose Mariano Ximenez (1781-1811). That is the reason one has an S and the other has a Z.” Zexmenia would therefore be an anagram of Ximenez with an a added at the end.

      Steve Schwartzman

      September 6, 2015 at 8:00 AM

    • By the way, you continue to honor your scholarly credentials by being more interested in zexmenia than in sex mania.

      Steve Schwartzman

      September 6, 2015 at 8:03 AM

  2. Pity the botanists couldn’t leave a perfectly good name alone. When I was in my salad days my mentors would assume a superior air and inform me that one really must learn the latin names for plants because common names were unreliable. In my innocence I believed them but now I see they are far more fickle than us commoners could ever hope to be! On the other hand, being a lumper, I do feel a little glee when I see plants that were formerly split now lumped.


    September 6, 2015 at 8:42 AM

  3. I sort of understand the constant twiddling with nomenclature and who belongs where today as opposed to yesterday, but it still seems overly confusing…at least to a non-scientist. I use my 40 year old Peterson’s for most flower IDs, but Go Botany is a regional and fairly reliable source except for the constant name changes. I can’t keep up.
    Zex or sex mania makes sense to me…that’s about all flowers think about, isn’t it?

    Steve Gingold

    September 6, 2015 at 9:45 AM

    • The good side of a change in nomenclature is that it reflects the latest research, especially DNA analysis, into the origin of a given species. The bad side is that botanical research has advanced so quickly that it’s hard for us non-botanists to keep up, as you know so well.

      I like the way you anthropomorphically phrased it: “that’s about all flowers think about, isn’t it?” Yep, that’s what flowers exist for, at least botanically speaking. People have read and no doubt will continue to read many other things into flowers.

      Steve Schwartzman

      September 6, 2015 at 10:23 AM

  4. Your post title will certainly attract attention, Steve! Sadly, remembering scientific botanical names has never been my forte. After reading about the changes to the naming of this species, I now have an excellent excuse for not being so concerned. I could spend a vast amount of effort remembering names only to have them changed I do think the original name of this one is much easier to remember though. 😉


    September 6, 2015 at 7:29 PM

    • Yeah, I thought it’s a catchy title. Even without a title like that, my posts about zexmenia in previous years always got a certain number of hits from people clearly looking for something else. Zexmenia is a great word and easy to remember, but unfortunately botanists have taken it out of the scientific name.

      Steve Schwartzman

      September 6, 2015 at 10:56 PM

  5. Wedelia is the part of the name that suddenly caught my attention. A family I knew from Port Alto had three daughters, and one of them went by Wede. I wonder if that might have been a shortening of Wedelia. There was a German woman who lived near Francitas who was named Wedelia, and there are plenty of Wedels in Texas. Whether any of them are related to Georg Wolfgang Wedel is hard to say, but it certainly is suggestive. (See? I did get to your title.)

    Port Alto, by the way, is directly south of a little place on TX35 called Weedhaven. There’s a good title for a book about weeds: “Weed Havens of Texas.”


    September 7, 2015 at 9:23 PM

    • I see you found the origin of the genus name in Georg Wolfgang Wedel:


      I’ve never known anyone named Wede, but Libby Weed is the president of the Gilbert and Sullivan Society of Austin. Her name may strike some as suggesting disdain and uselessness, but the reality is just the opposite. Whether Libby’s husband is a relative of J. F. Weed, the eponym of Weedhaven, I don’t know, but I’ll try to remember to ask her.

      Steve Schwartzman

      September 7, 2015 at 9:47 PM

  6. By any name it is quite beautiful; such a gorgeous image.

    Charlie@Seattle Trekker

    September 8, 2015 at 12:04 AM

    • You’ve reminded me of Romeo and Juliet:

      “What’s in a name? that which we call a rose
      By any other name would smell as sweet.”

      Zexmenia, however, has no scent that I’m aware of.

      Steve Schwartzman

      September 8, 2015 at 3:03 AM

  7. A catchy title to go with a catchy blossom. 🙂


    July 15, 2019 at 5:06 PM

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