Sunday, August 3, 2008

What's Your Name?

Although I cannot claim to know all of the wildflowers of Texas, I know a goodly portion of what grows in the Hill Country by their binomials. The others are ones I once knew, like an old friend you see after some time and you can't for the foggiest recall their name.

So it's always exciting to run across a plant I've never seen before. I've been watching this one for two years and have not figured it out yet.


It's a small perennial growing out of a limestone slab in a dry creek, so it doesn't get much water. It's in dappled shade/sun and blooms in May as a greenish-brown flower with four petals. Last year I thought perhaps I'd missed the petals and was looking at sepals, especially since they are glabrous, but on closer observation this year this appears to be all it's got.

The most interesting thing about the flower is it only opens during a downpour of rain! It doesn't open when it's just cloudy, drizzling, or lightly raining. We're talking a sky is falling, cats-and-dogs drenching. Is there such a thing as pollination by heavy rain? I haven't seen any creature attempting to pollinate it. As soon as the rain ends, the flower closes again.

My friend Marshall Johnston (Vascular Plants of Texas) doesn't recognize it, and has suggested emailing BRIT.

1 comment:

Dana Jones said...

it reminds me of an aged piece of ephemera, like the yellowed page of an old dictionary! You will appreciate the pic of the fox on my cabin blog this week! Take a gander when you have time!

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