Portraits of Wildflowers

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Archive for February 21st, 2016

Mexican devilweed

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Mexican Devilweed 3841

Chloracantha spinosa (which used to be classified as Aster spinosus but is the only species in its current genus) has an off-putting common name: Mexican devilweed. Having seen this native plant only a few times, I was devilishly happy to come across one on February 4 at the edge of Muir Lake (dammed-up Buttercup Creek) in the town of Cedar Park, just a few minutes’ walk from the scene you saw in the previous post.

The little puffball seed heads tell you that this is another member of the sunflower family, like the silverpuff that recently appeared here. Leaves on this species tend to be tiny or absent, but the green (Greek chlor-) stems carry out photosynthesis. The linked source gives a bloom period of May–October, and closer to home Shinners and Mahler’s Illustrated Flora of North Central Texas says June-October, but here was Mexican devilweed flowering at the beginning of February. A rear guard? An advance guard? A freak? Take your pick.

If you’d like to see the places in the southwestern quadrant of the United States where Chloracantha spinosa grows, you can consult the USDA map.

So much for an informational picture. Now let’s get serious with this closer and more-abstract view of a devilweed flower head striving to open:

Mexican Devilweed Flower Head Opening 3864

© 2016 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

February 21, 2016 at 5:03 AM

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