Wildflowers: A visit to my yard - VIII

Henbit (Lamium amplexicaule)

(January to March)

This European exotic is the first flower to bloom in the yard each year. It has established itself throughout North America. It is considered a weed in most lawns and gardens. However, since the plant dies with the coming of hot weather, it is not a problem in the summer and adds color to the yard when few other plants are growing, let alone blooming.

Small Bluets (Hedyotis crassiflia)

(January to April)

This plant, like most others in the yard, grows in sandy soils in fields, pastures, prairies, and lawns. It is also calles Star-violet, Innocence, Angel-eyes, and Quaker Ladies. It is a relative of the Gardenia. It has made its first observed appearance in the yard in 1998.

Dotted Blue-Eyed Grass

(Sisyrinchium pruinosum)

(April to May)

This flower, also observed for the first time this year, lives in open prairies, pastures, meadows, woodlands, and oak uplands on sandy soils, and also in my yard. Elsewhere, it appears in almost solid sheets of blue.It can be used as a border in wildflower gardens. It exists in many hybrid forms, with variants often named as species. It is a member of the Iris family.

Goatsbeard (Tragopogon dubius)

(May to July)

This plant was introduced from Europe and is now widely established as a weed. It grows in disturbed areas in all soils. It first appeared in my yard after several years at the edge of my patio up against the back wall of the house. The bloom is surrounded by narrow bracts longer than the flowers. The stems are tough and difficult to break.

Spreading Hedge Parsley

(Torilis arvensis)

(April to June)

This flower, known locally as Beggar's Tick, looks much like Queen Anne's Lace (Daucus carota) and can be confused with it. Its small blooms turn to seeds much like Velcro, which stick easily and securely to clothing. Removing them can be quite a chore. The plant, nevertheless, has an interesting history. This plant wants to conquer to world. Its range is nearly worldwide. It came from Africa, where it is called Torilis africana. From there it spred to Europe and to Asia and the Americas. In Japan it is called Japanese Hedge Parsley.

Though a pest throughout the rest of the world, it is protected in England under the Wildlife and Countryside Act of 1981, where it is considered a nationally scarce species. Changes in sheep farming has reduced the means of the plant to disperse itself more densely across the countryside. Determined British conservationists are carrying out an action plan so as to maintain biodiversity in the UK. Although the rest of the world doesn't think it needs more of this plant, England does.

ECH - March 22, 2003
Texas Wildflowers
National Wildflower Research Center
Texas Society for Ecological Restoration
Natural Area Preservation Association
Texas Wildscapes
Sally Wasowski's Page
Center for Environmental Philosophy