Tag Archives: Howard Irwin

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.

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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.

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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.

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