Wild flowers of a dry Texas Spring day

[Please note that when this post was first published yesterday, April 10, 2010, the Silverleaf nightshade was misidentified as a Dayflower.  The corrections have been made in the caption of the flower and plant and the notes contain a warning about the use of the Silverleaf nightshade.]

At 9:59 a.m. I drove down to the barn and parked the F-150.  Taking my camera and walking carefully, within the next hour I traced a familiar path from the barn thorough the corrals, into the arena pasture and into the grove.  I walked along the edge of Salt Creek and photographed these wild flowers of our dry Texas Spring.  Salt Creek is an intermittent-running creek, but there are pools of water and tracks abound.   The trees are green and lush about the creek and grass, despite the drought, remains verdant.

I picked a blossom of wild verbena in the main pasture and gently pressed it.  The fragrance flew about my face and I inhaled deeply.  Only a partial blossom I pressed, but it nonetheless imparted its scent that remained for minutes, not seconds, as I walked back up to the barn.  Beside the kitchen sink, we have liquid verbena soap, reminding me of the wild as I wash my hands, arms and face.

* * *

My uncle Floyd McRorey used to come in from the field and wash his hands in the kitchen sink with hard Lava soap as Aunt Lennie prepared a meal.  I never saw Aunt Lennie wash the dinner dishes.  She helped dry, but never washed the dinner dishes.  Uncle Floyd always washed the dinner dishes.

* * *

All of the following photographs may be enlarged with a click of your mouse.


Notes:

The scientific nomenclature for each plant may be incorrect as there are a broad range of varieties.  I refer to as many as four books and two databases to identify the plant, but I may be in error, so please verify my identification.

The Silverleaf nightshade is all toxic.  Medicinal: Used for rattlesnake bite – root chewed by medicine man, who then sucks on the wound to remove venom, then more root is chewed and applied to swollen area. (Steiner) Southwestern Native Americans used the crushed berries to curdle milk in making cheese, and the berries have also been used in various preparations for treating sore throat and toothache (Lady Bird Wildflower Center Plant Database).

Please see the link for Silverleaf nightshade:

Lady Bird Johnson Native Plant Database Silverleaf nightshade.

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10 Comments

Filed under Wild Flowers of Texas

10 responses to “Wild flowers of a dry Texas Spring day

  1. These little beauties remind me of the wildflowers I see when my sister and I go wildflower walking in the high desert areas of Nevada. It’s always a delight to find such beauty in a landscape that at first glance holds little.

  2. I enjoyed seeing these wildflowers from your area. I was especially intrigued by the Dayflower. Your growing season seems much more advanced than ours.

    I was concerned that your area may have been in danger from the fires, but from what I could tell from the maps I found, they were not near you? The last two summers here were very light for fires, so we may be due for some this year although I sure hope not. Fire has always been a necessary force in our forests, but I hate to see people’s lives or homes in danger.

    • We had a wildfire 20 miles northwest of us near Strawn, Texas. Burned 21,000 acres, but is contained. Yesterday, we were on the edge of the dry line, just enough to have humidity that kept us okay and low winds of 15 m.p.h.

      Way out west in Ft. Davis, 20 homes were destroyed. The Texas Forest Service says that yesterday was the worst in history of the state, but no deaths. Several years ago — five or six years — we had terrible fires nearby, some five miles away and in the Panhandle there was terrible loss of livestock. So bad was it that I stopped reading about it.

      I am glad things have been light for you up there. Frankly, when I was growing up, I don’t remember as many fires.

      We got over an inch of rain last night from a thunderstorm spun off from the squall line! First significant precipitation in over ninety days.

  3. No sign of wildflowers here yet, but I look forward to the day. That rain last night must have felt and sounded good.

    • Well, Teresa, you have such a beautiful place when it comes out. The rain last night surprised us. Quite nice and things look so much better. I’ll be getting over to your blog later and see what marvelous things you have created.

  4. I really enjoyed your narrative and the photos Jack. Lava is still the best soap for getting really dirty hands clean, but doing the dishes is even better. A wise man your Uncle Floyd! And I’ll bet your Aunt appreciated it as well.

    Are you in a part of Texas that is normally dry? Or is this an unusually dry year? I picture most of Texas as being a @5 inches of rain per year area, excepting the coast of course.

    I was amazed to see how different your Verbena’s were than ours up north. We have a common Verbena, Verbena hastata, that barely resembles the plant you display. Our bind weed is very similar though.

    Thanks Jack, this was very interesting.

    • Thanks, Bill. I had not thought of Lava soap until I was composing the short post yesterday. Funny how the memory works. Verbena = verbena soap = Floyd washing hands = Lava soap = Floyd doing dishes. I spent as much time with Floyd and Lennie as I did with my grandmother. Aunt Lennie was my mother’s father’s sister, my Great Aunt really. She grew up on the Parks Place, the eldest of the children. Floyd taught me a lot about work and cattle.

      I’ve run your last post off on the printer regarding mud season and have read it laughing! I’ll get over to your blog place later and enter comments.

      Yes, where we live in central-west Texas, midway between Fort Worth and Abilene, it is dry, about 20 – 30 inches a year on the average, but we are on the cusp of a semi-arid environment and the Chihuahuan Desert is moving ever so gradually northward (or was a few years ago). This is an unusually dry Spring.

      I love the verbena for a lot of reasons: it’s usually the first bloom out for Spring and it persists through the summer. Monarchs like it too.

      Liked your pictures of the muddy road.

  5. Erin R.

    So that is wild verbena…there is an abundance of this growing in the ditch in front of my house and I never knew what it was or that is smelled. It has always been one of my favorites too. Even the dying flowers have a lovely blue color. Your posts always teach me something. Thank you, Jack! I’m headed outside to sniff the verbena.

    • Erin, pluck a blossom and pinch the a few of the purple items at the base and put it close to your nose. In cases where it is dry, that will release the scent. It is not a cloying scent, but is sweet, not sharp.

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