Tag Archives: Verbena

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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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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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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Yucca Nuzzles

I have some photos about plants, animals, terrain and fossils I would like to show you.  There’s always a photo opportunity here on Flying Hat.  April offers some comforting snapshots about the place.  There’s a lot of communication taking place, even with horses and yucca.

Fanny and Jack at Stable Alleyway

In “Fanny and Jack in the Stable Alleyway,” I am with Fanny and she wants to show her gratitude for the grain she got this morning.  She sees the camera and wants to get her picture taken as well as give me a nuzzle in the neck.

Fanny is not an aggressive horse.  Nonetheless, around horses, a person must be cautious.  They are flight animals and when frightened, they will kick or bolt forward.  Fanny is a good mare and her trainer, Duncan Steele-Park and the crew at GCH Land & Cattle Co., have taken her good qualities and improved them.  From the day of her birth, we have been familiar with Fanny, lifting her feet and touching her.

Fanny Nuzzles Jack

A nuzzle on the neck is good sign that the horse has “joined up” with a person.  “Joining up” is a trademark term of Monty Roberts, The Man Who Listens to Horses (1996) and From My Hands to Yours (2002).

Our horses have human contact–tactile contact–every day.  The touching includes a “sacking out” with the hands.  “Sacking out” is an term describing a procedure to rub the horse with a foreign object, i.e., a sack, halter, lead rope, blanket or with the hands.  A daily touching and haltering with the horse boosts the familiarity between horse and human.

In most cases, horses anticipate the tactile contact.  Lilly, our oldest mare, will glide up alongside us and stop, allowing us to rub her under her mane on the neck.  The horse’s approach should not crowd the space of humans and it is best if they stop a few feet away and present themselves, more or less, with their flanks exposed.  Even after a person becomes acquainted with equine behavior, it is always best to position the body at the flanks or broadside to the horse.

Fanny's Head on Jack's Shoulder

The daily contact with horses is a good thing for them and us.  We rub the horses once or twice between the eyes, a place they cannot see, as a sign we are trustworthy.

*   *   *

Read on, there’s more…

Pale-leaf Yucca (Y. pallida)

I have spent thirty minutes typing this yucca plant.  I may be wrong, but my factor analysis seems correct.  It is a Pale-leaf yucca (Yucca pallida).  As stated in my “Notice to Readers of Sage to Meadow,” if you discern an error in my typing this plant, please correct me.

Pale-leaf yucca is endemic (native only to a particular area) to North Central Texas and may extend into the Edwards Plateau, growing on rocky soil and outcrops of the Blackland Prairies and the Grand Prairie. It bears sage-green or bluish-green, orderly-arranged leaves having a noticeable waxy bloom, or glaucous appearance. The rosette itself is stemless and small, providing a spherical, coarse-textured look in the landscape. It may be single or have multiple offsets. Like all yuccas, Yucca pallida requires good drainage. It may be grown in the shade garden for textural interest, but may not bloom as well as those in more sun.  [Texas Plant Database, Texas A&M University.]

In my analysis, I also figured the yucca might be Yucca contricta (Buckley yucca) or Yucca necopina (Glen Rose yucca).  In the next few days, these yuccas will blossom and I will provide field photos.

*   *   *

Verbena with Poprock Hill

I write so often about Poprock Hill, I thought I would provide a photo of the hill.  This was taken earlier this April before the full eruption of grasses, but you can see the proliferation of verbena in the foreground.  Notice also the abundance of Pale-leaf yucca (Yucca pallida) on the terraces below the ranch house.  Poprock Hill is aptly named by local settlers because of the poprocks that are plentiful about the hill.  I collect them, and with each rain poprocks emerge from the soil.

Poprocks on Silver

“Poprocks on Silver” shows several poprocks, large and small, that I have collected.

These photographs I have posted illustrate that even on simple, unglamorous land, there are natural items that are noteworthy and significant for study.  The yucca plant I typed (hopefully, correct) required me to go back out to the terrace and look closer at the edges of the leaves to determine if there was a white line or if the leaves were curled, narrow or broad.  As I began to type the yucca for posting, I got interested in the yucca for its own sake: what was it?  Was it rare?  Endemic?  The Glen Rose yucca is a uncommon plant and needs some protection from extraction and destruction.  Did I have a Glen Rose or not?  I find the yucca in Texas worthy of further study.  I may start a yucca farm.

Finally, I think this post with photos shows how connections can be funny and personal between species.  Fanny and I communicated and I think both of us got pleasure and companionship out of the contact.  The yucca could not respond.   Whoa there, cowboy!  From a Native American point-of-view, the yucca and I were talking to each other, weren’t we?  It showed me its style, color and emerging blossoms.  I watched it and it “told” me what it was doing.  Yes.  Certain species of the yucca can be used for soap, shampoo.  And, when I give Lilly her supplement for her osteoarthritis, the veterinary insisted that the supplement include yucca.  This personalization of plants and animals is beneficial to us all: medicine, companionship and a unity that, however briefly, overcomes life’s estrangement.  That’s talking with the plants and animals.  Maybe they are our relatives.

I wish you a pleasant week ahead: nuzzle your yucca, but be very careful.  Like with all relatives.

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Filed under Duncan Steele-Park, Horses, Life in Balance, Plants and Shrubs, Shiners Fannin Peppy (Fanny)