Spring Flowers in Texas

Stork's Bill (Erodium texanum) April 2010

Here is Stork’s Bill or Pine Needle (Erodium texanum) found here on Flying Hat.  It is an annual herb, member of the Geranium family, most of which are found in Europe and South Africa [C. and L. Loughmiller, Texas Wildflowers: A Field Guide, p. 104; H. Irwin and M. Wills, Roadside Flowers of Texas, pp. 140-41.]

Scarlet Paintbrush or Indian Paintbrush (Castilleja indivisa) April 2010

These Indian Paintbrushes are uncommon on Flying Hat.  I found most of these in the Pecan Tree Pasture and not many of them.  The Blue Place, the family to the east of us, has a field that is quite loaded with the paintbrushes.  I have a photograph of the Blue field and will post it in the future.

Purple Vetch (Vicia dasycarpa) with Bee April 2010

This vetch, Purple Vetch (Vicia dasycarpa), is not the poisonous variety. Notice the bee that is pollen-gathering.  The spring rains have been so abundant that the vetch is knee-high in my fields and the Blue Place, to the east of us, has vetch that is chest-high as it climbs on the field fence.  As I say, this is not the poisonous variety and the bees love to gather pollen from it.

Wooly Milkvetch (Astragalus mollissimus), Wooly Locoweed (NPIN Image Gallery, Lady Bird Johnson Center)

This is a photograph of the poisonous variety of vetch that we do not have on the ranch.   From Irwin and Wills, Roadside Flowers of Texas, p. 138:  “Of the nearly 1000 species of Astragalus, over 200 occur in the United States, about 35 of them in Texas.  The members of the genus that are poisonous to livestock are called Locoweeds, while the harmless ones are known as Milk-vetches.  In the former category is the Woolly Loco of the Panhandle and Trans-Pecos area, a tufted, soft-hairy, deeply rooted perennial with dense racemes of purplish flowers in the late spring.  Quite innocuous looking to the eye, the Woolly Loco is among the ‘early risers’ in the spring, and so tempts cattle, even though its taste is so disagreeable that they normally avoid it.  Later, in periods of drought when grasses succumb, the persistent Woolly Loco remains, seemingly unaffected.  Nor are browsing animals the only ones concerned.  The nectar contains poisonous substances, sometimes causing decimation of bee populations.”

In talking with Roland Stroebel today, my colleague at the college who tends Angus cattle, our non-poisonous Purple Vetch is abundant on his place also, but does not cause a problem for his browsing livestock.  Roland’s ranch is south of Cisco, Texas, and his family goes back several generations.


Filed under Plants and Shrubs

2 responses to “Spring Flowers in Texas

  1. Kittie Howard

    Jack, the Stork’s Bill rather reminded me of the Morning Glory. Interesting history, that it’s found more in Europe and South Africa and probably reflective of earlier settlers. We have the Purple Vetch in South Louisiana. Pretty to look at, but, my, a problem with cattle. Didn’t know it was poisonous to bees. As important as bees are, I suppose they have to have a check to the balance. But, Jack, my of all, our condolences about Fenster. After I read your comment — and wiped away the tears — I asked Dick to read your comment. He grew very, very sad and paled. Oh, Jack, Fenster’s passing ripped thru your soul and kicked your very sense of being. It wasn’t your fault — nothing can stop a cat from being a cat — and Fenster rolled because he loved you and wanted to demonstrate his love — yes, I believe what Brenda said is true, that Fenster opened his eyes one last time, for such is the power of love. But I also believe Fenster was trying to tell you that he loved you. And he did, oh how he did!!! What a wonderful kitty. K.

    • Kittie: Thank you for your comments. I had to stop reading your post on Chessy because it was so moving and I identified with your emotions. Yes, it really ripped me. It nearly did me in. I can see how disintegrating to the pschye the loss of an animal companion can be, to the point of staying down for a long, long time. I appreciate your interpretation that he was rolling because he loved me. I never looked at it that way, but that’s the way it is, isn’t it? I try to avoid pain and violence–don’t we all–but those visitations of pain and violence cannot be avoided. I did cry at your post. Such a good kitty, Chessy was.

      It’s nuts to say it, but I would give a fortune to see my loved ones again–human and animal.

      You are such a good writer and blogger, Kittie.

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