Portraits of Wildflowers

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Posts Tagged ‘yucca

Orange is the color of Alibates

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A year ago today we spent some time at the Alibates Flint Quarries National Monument in the Texas Panhandle. You could say orange is a predominant color of the place. Yucca glauca, known as soapweed yucca, plains yucca, and narrowleaf yucca, is the predominant yucca in the area.

© 2018 Steven Schwartzman

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Written by Steve Schwartzman

May 27, 2018 at 4:41 AM

Yuccas flowering up high

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To allow FM 1431 to cross the Colorado River just south of Kingsland in the Texas Hill Country, engineers had to cut the roadbed through the flank of a steep hill. The result was an even steeper cliff, and it was at the interface between that cliff and the untouched hillside above it that these yuccas were flowering on April 4th. Sources show three species of yucca in that county. I’m leaning toward Yucca torreyi; Yucca pallida and Yucca constricta are the other possibilities.

Note the pads of prickly pear cactus (Opuntia spp.) that are such a common sight in Texas. Here’s a closer look at both kinds of plants:

© 2018 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

April 9, 2018 at 4:50 AM

Yucca flowering in the Texas Panhandle

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Probably the most numerous and certainly the most prominent flowers we saw in the Texas Panhandle on May 27th were those of Yucca glauca, known as soapweed yucca, plains yucca, and narrowleaf yucca. This species grows natively from Texas through Alberta, so it followed us on our trip through the Oklahoma Panhandle, Colorado, Nebraska, South Dakota, Wyoming, Colorado again, New Mexico, and back into west Texas.

Today’s photograph is yet another one from the Alibates Flint Quarries. The orange earth in the background was within sight of the place shown in yesterday’s second picture.

© 2017 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

June 23, 2017 at 4:56 AM

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A botanical surprise

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joshua-tree-7150

I got close to a substantial Joshua tree a few miles north of Barstow, California, on October 25. Despite the common designation of “tree” based on the presence of bark and a sturdy trunk, the scientific name Yucca brevifolia tells us that the plant is actually a yucca. Surprise. A closer look at a cluster of Joshua tree leaves clearly shows their yucca-ness.

joshua-tree-with-prominent-leaves-7163

Click to enlarge.

Yuccas in central Texas are a lot smaller than Joshua trees, but west Texas has some closer in stature to California’s giants.

© 2017 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

January 6, 2017 at 5:01 AM

May 8th

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Rain-Lily Flower 0523

After the appearance of this picture a week ago, Gallivanta suggested repeating it today, this time with the rain-lily (Cooperia pedunculata) symbolizing several things. For her it’s her father’s birthday (best wishes). May 8 is also World Red Cross and Red Crescent Day. In 2016, May 8 happens to be Mother’s Day. In 1945, the Allies celebrated May 8 as VE Day, Victory in Europe over the forces of Nazi Germany. That same day and year also saw the birth of my childhood friend Michael Kindman, who unfortunately died young a couple of decades ago.

If you’ll indulge me for having decided “to paint the lily,” as Shakespeare put it*, here’s yet another photograph from a month ago today at the Doeskin Ranch. Adjacent to a yellowing twistleaf yucca (Yucca rupicola) leaf I found a Heller’s plantain (Plantago helleri). This little plant(ain) typically goes through the nodding phase you see here before straightening up and producing tiny flowers.

Heller's Plantain by Yellowing Yucca Leaf 0680

Oh well, now that I’ve mentioned its flowers, I guess I have to show you one. Here’s a view from my northwest Austin neighborhood on March 20:

Heller's Plantain Flower 8843

 


 

* Here’s the passage from Shakespeare’s King John:

Therefore, to be possess’d with double pomp,
To guard a title that was rich before,
To gild refined gold, to paint the lily,
To throw a perfume on the violet,
To smooth the ice, or add another hue
Unto the rainbow, or with taper-light
To seek the beauteous eye of heaven to garnish,
Is wasteful and ridiculous excess.

Somehow in public memory the two metaphors in the third line have merged, with the result that we now encounter the incorrect phrase “to gild the lily” more often than the correct one.

© 2016 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

May 8, 2016 at 5:09 AM

A live yucca

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Yucca Gone to Seed with Wispy Clouds 9872

After yesterday’s downward-looking view at the earthbound remains of a yucca that seemed to me to be a headless porcupine, I thought I should show you an upward-looking view of a tall yucca from November 22 in the western portion of Big Bend National Park. It may be a Faxon yucca, Yucca faxoniana, which one of my books says can grow to 9m (29 ft.).

If you haven’t gotten enough of the imagining game, you’re invited to check out the pair of wispily masked baby-blue eyes in the sky peering down over a likewise wispy nose.

© 2015 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

December 15, 2015 at 4:52 AM

Another thing that looked to me like a headless animal

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Yucca Stump Remains 0507

This time I saw a headless porcupine but it’s actually the dried-out remains of the lower part of a yucca plant—a common sight in the Chihuahuan Desert. The depression at the left is the place from which the plant’s tall stalk once emerged.

I took this picture on the west side of US 385 inside Big Bend National Park on November 23rd.

© 2015 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

December 14, 2015 at 5:20 AM

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