Tag Archives: Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center

Fogfruit or Frogfruit: Art and whimsy

On the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center website, botanists answer questions from the laity — you, me and other interested observers of things botanical. Wild Bill of Wild Ramblings asked me where the common names, Fogfruit and Frogfruit, emanated. For the moment, Wild Bill — and others –, this is the best answer I found. Yet, the question of origin requires more research.  The Oxford English Dictionary (OED) is a good first start.

The OED cites:  ‘1866   J. Lindley & T. Moore Treasury Bot.,   Fog-fruit, an American name for Lippia nodiflora.’  I will have to go to the university library to find The Treasury of Botany, but at least I have a title to search.  Nineteenth-century newspapers and periodicals probably have notations about common names, so I better dust off my microfilm reader at the office.  Oh, Bill, why did you have to ask that question?

33. Texas Frogfruit or Fogfruit

Common names are curious things.  While no one would bat an eye about a paper dissecting some arcane point of minutiae regarding Polygonum orientale, it’s difficult to imagine a crotchety old botanist standing before his peers at a professional conference and delivering a serious exposition on “Kiss-me-over-the-garden-gate.” Where botanical names are all about science and rules, common names are about art and whimsy.  Botanical names are about the sharing of information; common names are about conversation and pleasant communication.  Botanical names are neat and orderly, law-abiding citizens; common names are messy, free-wheeling, teenaged scofflaws.

All of that is a way of saying that “frogfruit” and “fogfruit” are like the old chewing gum ads – they’re “two… two… two mints in one!”  OK, Phyla nodiflora is not a mint, it’s in the Verbena family, but both common names are commonly applied to that species and several others related to it.  In fact, fogfruit probably even predates frogfruit as a common name by about 100 years (early 1800’s for fogfruit vs. early 1900’s for frogfruit).  Most likely, frogfruit arose as a common name from a mispronunciation or misspelling of fogfruit. I have in my mind the scene of a copy editor looking at “fogfruit” and saying, “That can’t be right!  What the heck is a fogfruit?  It must be, oh, I don’t know, maybe frogfruit!  Yep, that must be it.  Frogfruit makes a lot more sense!  Set the type, boys!”  Even today, if you do a Google search for each common name, you’ll get more “hits” for fogfruit than you will for frogfruit.  Neither common name makes much sense to me and I’m still looking for a good (non-fanciful) explanation for the origin of either one.  My personal preference is for the common name, Turkey-tangle, but that’s another issue altogether.

—  Joe Marcus of Lady Bird Wildflower Center, The University of Texas at Austin.

For a full explanation see:

http://www.wildflower.org/expert/show.php?id=4265

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Filed under Flowers of Flying Hat, Wild Flowers of Texas

Turkey Tangle Fogfruit: Flowers of Flying Hat (32-38)

In my continuing project to photograph all different species of flowering plants on Flying Hat Ranchito during 2012-2013, I give you seven more Flowers of Flying Hat (32-38).  Please correct my identification if I make an error, for I want my cataloging to be accurate.

32. Tall Coneflower, Rough Coneflower, Giant Coneflower (Rudbeckia grandiflora)

As the Tall Coneflower matures, it loses the green-gray cone, becoming brown.  These are immature, but mature Tall Coneflowers erupt throughout the ranchito.  These immature coneflowers suddenly sprang up after the last rain along a terracing ditch for stock ponds.  The large spindle-like purple flowers in the background are horse mint, previously photographed.

No. 32 Family of Tall Coneflower

33. Texas Frogfruit, Turkey Tangle Fogfruit, Frogfruit (Verbena family), good nectar plant for butterflies, bees

No. 33 Sprawling Texas Frogfruit

This odd-named plant is a host to several larval: Phaon Crescentspot, Buckeye, and White Peacock butterflies.  I find butterflies and bees abounding on its blossoms.  The sprawl is located in front of my C&C livestock trailer and my Big Texas flatbed.  It is flooded and dried by the sun, time and time again, and still remains robust and flowering.  Frankly, I nearly passed over the blossoms for they are quite small — about 1/4 inch across –, but decided to go back this morning and photograph.  Upon looking up its characteristics, I am impressed with its connections to bees, butterflies and larvae.  I wish I knew how Frogfruit got its name.  And it is Turkey Tangle Fogfruit, not Frogfruit, in case you are interested.  Fogfruit, Frogfruit — what nomenclature our ancestors tagged on flora.

I can’t wait for someone to ask me down at the barn, What kind of plant is that?

My answer, Why don’t you know?  Everyone knows that’s….

34. Tasajillo, Christmas Cactus, Christmas Cholla, Rat-tail Cactus, Pencil Cactus (Opuntia leptocaulis), edible fruit

If I have been stuck by this cactus once, then it is for sure at least a hundred times more over the years.  I may have been bucked by a horse long ago into a bunch of these Christmas cacti.  I have eaten the fruit carefully.

35. Coreopsis, Golden-Wave, Tickseed, Goldenmane Tickseed

I went down to the Grove this morning to see if the Wine Cups blossom in cooler temperatures — 70 F.  The Wine Cups were gone, but these Goldenmane Tickseed had sprung up about the area where the Wine Cups had erupted.  Fair enough, I think, for the soil is rich, the shade is cool by the creek, and there is room for several blossoming plants.

36. Soft Golden Aster (Chrysopsis pilosa)

37. Texas Thistle (Aster family)

38. Common Sunflower (Helianthus annuus, Aster family)

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Wind, Yucca and Wine Cups: A Texas Spring

Two days ago I and the ranchito received 0.25 inch of rain, causing bees to work hard yesterday in the front yard, gathering pollen from an unidentified burst of small white flowers and residual Gyp Indian Blankets.  I have photographed the white flowers and will integrate them into the catalog of Flowers of Flying Hat.  Cool winds blew the yucca blossoms about and I took this video of wind blowing the yucca blossoms.

Rain fell this morning at the house and my commute to Abilene (87.2 miles) was tricky and slick in my large F-250 pickup.  A Federal Express truck with two tandem trailers went off the road west of Cisco on Interstate 20 and turned over.  From what I gathered, passing by in the rain, no fires erupted.  I hope the driver escaped with little or no injury.

Elaine Lee wrote about the Wine Cups in our vicinity.  She lives in Clyde, Texas, and drives to Cisco, Texas, every work day.  Elaine is a careful observer of flora and fauna along Interstate 20, including the ducks on Baird Hill Pond.  She has noticed, as I have, the large flock of wild turkeys that infrequently browse in the field south of Baird Hill.  Elaine writes of the Wine Cups,

I’m certain you are correct about wine cup not being present last year in your location.  This year, and never before, I saw wine cup growing along the highway edge in the Interstate 20 median.  They were growing just west of Putnam, TX and stretched for probably 200 or 300 hundred yards.  Of all Texas wildflowers, I have heard they are the most difficult to become established.  I don’t know if grassfire in the median caused the heat to break their seed covering or ground heat from the drought, but whatever it was, it created a very nice showing this Spring.  In years past I have seen them along the Interstate 20 frontage road not far from my sister’s house in Dallas, but never in this area.  However, I hope they are here to stay since they add another color dimension to the Spring landscape.

In researching the Wine Cup, I have found something quite interesting.  The Wine Cup has native distribution only to southwest Missouri and southeast Kansas, south to to Louisiana and central Texas.  It has spread to other states.  Flying Hat Ranchito is located on the western periphery of central Texas.  My mailing address comes out of Mingus, Texas, but the ranchito is ten-or-so miles southeast of Mingus, back in the hills, in Sims Valley, near Hannibal, Texas.  Hannibal now has one building that used to double as a general store with a Masonic Lodge on the second floor (don’t hold me too tight on these two historical functions of the building for I need to do more research).  The Wine Cups I photographed are six miles away from Hannibal, to the north.

My plans for the weekend include further observations of Wine Cups in the grove area.  At last count, eight Wine Cup blossoms erupted.  Of yucca, some one-hundred stalks abound on the terraces.  One hundred stalks times one-hundred blossoms per stalk equals 10,000 blossoms.  Of rain, 0.25 inch two-days ago, about 0.10 inch this morning.  Of bees and critters?  I will count them another day.

______________________________

Notes, corrections and additions:

From the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center, I quote,

Callirhoe digitata Nutt.

Finger poppy-mallow, Poppy mallow, Standing winecup, Wine cup, Winecup

Malvaceae (Mallow Family)

USDA Symbol: CADI2

USDA Native Status: Native to U.S.

The wine cup is a perennial growing 8–20 inches tall, depending on moisture and soil, with gray-green stems. Leaves are alternate, basal leaves having stems about as long as the leaf; leaves are coarsely lobed or scalloped to deeply 5-lobed. There are few leaves on the upper part of the stem. Flowers have 5 petals, cup-shaped at first and opening out nearly flat as the flower matures. They are violet to red-violet, sometimes white, 1–2 inches across. The stamens and pistil form a conelike structure in the center of the flower.

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Filed under Succulents, Wild Flowers of Texas

Vacation chores

My Spring vacation ends today.  Tomorrow back to work, teaching.  On the list of chores for ‘vacation,’ several tasks were accomplished, some were not.  I changed the flatbed tire, carted the Case DX-55 for repair and managed cleanup in the corrals.  The tractor remains in the shop for repair.  The barn alleyway remains unpaved with rain coming tomorrow.  I shall have to wade through mud after the rain.

The unexpected came up.  I shopped for a lower-gas-mileage car, preparing to trade in the white F-250 (I’ll be left with Old Bull, the gray 2002, F-250).  Shopping for a new car ate up two days of the seven-day vacation.  Is that not the norm?  I did not purchase a new vehicle.

* * *

I spotted a male Western Bluebird yesterday perched on a yucca-flower stalk, occasionally turning around on the dead pods, flexing its wings.

This morning I saw two monarch butterflies, one in the grove and one near the house.  They fly higher than treetops.

* * *

Spring arrives in a couple of days.

* * *

I have continued to photograph each new flower I see on the ranchito.  I’ve not identified all of them, but they have been photographed.  Yellow predominates as blossom color.  Here are clover with yellow blossoms and a pale-leaf yucca whorl.  The pale-leaf I am confident in identifying, but as to clover, have you ever looked up how many clovers there are?  There are several genus and species listed on the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center website.  This clover abundantly erupts on the ranchito.

 

 

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Flowers of Flying Hat (5): Ground plum, not yummy

Yesterday evening as I came back a different path from the barn after feeding Star, I discovered this flowering plant, the Ground plum, milkvetch.  I spent over an hour perusing field books until I identified Ground plum.  I nailed the identification when I corroborated a field book description with the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center website.  Depending upon the species of Astragalus, some members are poisonous, but this species is not.  Even so, Ground plum is not a yummy plant although its fragrance is lovely — somewhat spicy I believe.

5. Ground plum, milkvetch (Astragalus crassicarpus?). March 3, 2012, southeast second-level terrace. See: http://www.wildflower.org/gallery/result.php?id_image=9002; Wills and Irwin, p. 138, especially.

I discovered a new link for plants: University of Michigan-Dearborn Native American Ethnobotany.  You must check this out for medicinal uses of plants.

This medicinal use of plants starts me thinking.  I may set aside an area in the barn to harvest some of these plants.  I already have a request for bull nettle to be sent up to Wisconsin for an indoor greenhouse.  Don’t let the bull nettle go outside!

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Downy feathers and purple fruit of Texas

The drought affect upon a person’s mood in Texas can quickly decline into prurient prose and photographs to the neglect of new abundances, new vacuums, curious presences in the arid lands. The drought’s vignettes multiple in west-central Texas:  Boer goats standing tall, eating mesquite and live oak leaves, dropping on all fours to dead grass; auction sales in Dublin, Eastland, and Coleman, Texas, that go on through the night and into the next day selling cattle that will, in the main, be quickly transported to packinghouses; cow tanks and water caches that were never dry in my lifetime are now barren, their empty beds cracking like dregs of buttermilk on clear glass; and reflective heat exploding my Boston Scientific Weather Station thermometer to 122 degrees.

No need to get angry at the weather; that’s crazy, wrote Nietzsche.  And after going over the daily picture rituals of dry, semi-arid, landscapes, I prefer not to reside in some smutty alcove of bereavement, rocking back and forth, counting beads, hoping for a drastic change in the jet stream.  I am in a droughty weather cycle, yes, but so?  Start designing interior plazas, stucco walls and arbors with water mists — all replete with scented juniper shade.  And, in the cool morning, begin construction.

Then, in the field, observe all things, including downy dove feathers on mesquite and the purple tulip fruit of the ubiquitous Desert prickly pear.  These are trusty images to dwell upon during the heat of the day.

Desert prickly pear, New Mexico prickly pear, bearing tulip fruits that are edible (north Erath County, Texas, 2011).


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Filed under Life in Balance