Shame and Kisses: More Flowers of Flying Hat (12-13)

Catclaw or Shame Vine

12. Catclaw, Shame Vine

This blossom and plant attests a rapid response to the human touch. It is variously known as: Shame Vine, Sensitive-Briar, Catclaw, Shame-Boy  (Mimosa microphylla). It has appeared every Spring since I have lived here, but I never photographed it before today. When I looked up the name of the plant, I also read that the tiny opposite leaflets close upward quickly when touched or walked upon. One authority says that the mechanism of withdrawal is not known in all respects.  Fascinated, I went down after lunch and shot this video of the Catclaw or Shame Vine.  Sure enough, when touched, it drew its claws in or folded its leaflets in ‘shame.’  Look at this video for it’s fascinating.


The Wild Honeysuckle or Kisses

13. Wild Honeysuckle, Bee Blossom or Kisses (Gaura suffulta), April 2012.

I spent two hours in the fields and grove this morning, photographing blossoms, mustang grapevines, yucca and the family of Gyp of Indian Blanket. Suddenly, there erupts in the pastures the Wild Honeysuckle pictured above. One day it is not there, the next day the flower is spread over five acres of pasture.  I never knew Honeysuckle grew on the ranchito.

The area has had two good rains in the last month that accounts for the lushness of the fields.

Of course, in identifying the blossoms above I found no quick method to do so.  I kept going among three wildflower books and the pictures in the books are not always precisely reflective of my photographs.  I find the Lady Bird Johnson Wildlife Center possesses a number of photos and variations that I can deduce better than one picture in one book.  But it did not help me this time.  I nearly gave up and was about to publish the blossom anyway, when I went into the Roadside Flowers of Texas by Mary Metz Wills and Howard S. Irwin.  Wills painted the wildflowers and did not photograph!  Nonetheless, I found a sketch of Wills that coalesced the attributes of the Wild Honeysuckle for me to identify.    Wills and Irwin’s book was published in 1961 by the University of Texas Press.

* * *

What is this with the local naming of plants?  Shame Boy, Shame Vine, Kisses, Catclaw?  Before we had scientific names, the visual and behavioral characteristics set plants and blossoms apart for identification.  ‘Tis useful, quaint, enduring in memory.  Only this Spring have I finally seen the ‘stork’s bill’ in the Stork’s Bill plant.  It is not in the blossom, but is the shape of the seed pods in the plant’s emergent foliage.  I think both names are necessary, the scientific for classification and study, and the local idiomatic names that reflect culture.  I enjoy learning names of nature’s plants and creatures for it is like meeting strangers — long and lasting friendships may endure, strangers no more.

* * *

I know you may think I am tedious about the Gyp Indian Blanket, but here is another picture of the family.  I can see the family outside my kitchen window and often monarchs perch and feed upon the family.  I have photos of monarchs perched upon the blossoms and will post them in the future.


Filed under Flowers of Flying Hat, Wild Flowers of Texas

16 responses to “Shame and Kisses: More Flowers of Flying Hat (12-13)

  1. i may not get to the wildflowers this spring though many are by the roadside in urban areas. i did get on a wildflower last spring in georgia. your photos are a lovely reminder of what i should seek out in wild flowers.

    • Thank you, Dianne. I have read about you on your blog and I highly respect your philosophy and posts. I hope to get there more often. I teach as you do and sometimes the students gobble up the time.

  2. Oh, my gosh! I’m sitting here processing photos from a day trip yesterday to Nash Prairie – I photographed Sensitive Briar, too, and it took me forever to identify it! I did find a site that has wonderful thumbnail photo galleries by wildflower color, and it really helped. You can find it here. Pick a color, click on the “thumbnail gallery” and you’re good to go.

    Apart from Sensitive Briar, I think my favorite find yesterday was TexasToad-Flax. Well, or Prairie Nymph. It’s so very interesting to see flowers in your post I haven’t run across here – due to many factors, I’m sure. Every time I see “Gyp” Indian Blanket, I think of the Panhandle family I know that talked all the time of the gyp water they had to put up with. I think it can be found in New Mexico, too, but the area around Amarillo seems to be most cursed with the stuff.

    • Yes, a lot of brackish or gyp water there. Thanks for the photo gallery site. I have included in my listings under my page on Native Plant Guide. I’ll look at the Prairie Nymph. That’s a fine name. I wonder if I have any here? Thank you for the weather site also: Weather Underground. Rubia, Montucky and Wild Bill probably use it. I am now using it.

  3. Rubia

    Jack, you could not have made a better simile, “it is like meeting strangers — long and lasting friendships may endure, strangers no more.” After you have identified (met) a flower and you see it again it is like meeting up with an old friend, and you say, “O look there is cut-leaved daisy!” You are able to introduce your “friends” to the people you care about so that they can admire nature with you. Thank you for all the “introductions” you are making with your blog Jack! The catclaw video is amazing! So interesting.

  4. Mimosa comes from mimic, but neither that nor the idea of ‘shame’ seems to fit these mysterious and sensitive beauties. Soon the big mimosa trees will be flowering here, they put on a dazzling show. Great little film! I love the local names too, and sometimes even find differences from area to area within in the same state.

  5. Can’t imagine a better way to spend a couple of hours. Identifying plants can be tricky, sometimes the difference between two similar plants can be infitesimal. Still it is a lot of fun!

    • Oh, yes, Bill, very tricky. I shouldn’t like to take an exam on some of my identifications. I use the scientific names cautiously and am always subject to correction. Thanks, Bill.

  6. Our wild honey suckles (fly honeysuckle) will blossom in late May or early June. We have two invasive honeysuckle shrubs, tartarian honeysuckle, and morrow’s honeysuckle that absolutely can take over acres of a landscape.

  7. What a great year it is for your project to find and identify the wildflowers! Couldn’t have timed it better!

  8. Hello Jack!
    While a young girl growing up in Texas (in the Victoria area), on the farm there was a sensitive plant that reacted much much quicker than this plant in the video. I remember playing with it out in the pasture, with one eye on a cow or a bull ready to run in case they didn’t like me being there! lol

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