Saturday, June 28, 2008

Lamesa Photo Essay # 1: The Plants

This is my photo essay of one of our Secondhand Lions Photo Safari. (What is Secondhand Lions? It's what we call ourselves: my best friend Donna, me, and now my brother Casey.)

We chose an area near Lamesa, Texas, roughly a half-way point between Donna in Lubbock and Odessa. An aerial trip via Google Earth showed it had lots of ponds, tanks, and small creeks. Unfortunately, what Google didn't reveal is that most of that property is private land. Still somehow we followed the winding, gravel Muleshoe Road and got a glimpse of paradise.

(Click any thumbnail for a larger picture.)

Erect Dayflower, Commelina erecta -- it's always fun to see blue in nature. The Swedish botanist Linneaeus named this plant for the three Commeline brothers, Dutch botanists, two of whom were very productive in their field. The third brother published nothing and was relatively unknown. Linneaeus used the flower's three petals -- two showy and one inconspicuous -- to represent the traits of the three brothers.

This is one of the many species of milkweed, but I couldn't find a way to identify exactly which one. And although it's a common species, and likes sandy soil and full sun, I don't see too much of it around home. So I'm always pleased when I see old lowly milkweeds. I think its flowers are really beautiful. (Remember the Green antelopehorn?)

I like lichens. (Aw, that was too easy.) Actually I don't know much about lichens, so I did a quick search and found from this site that, "Structurally, lichens are among the most bizarre of all forms of life. That's because every lichen species is actually composed of two, possibly even three, distinct species of organisms. One species is a kind of fungus. Usually the other species is an alga, but sometimes it can be a photosynthesizing bacterium known as a cyanobacterium. Sometimes all three organisms are found in one lichen." Who knew!

You are going to love this little gem. It's called a balsam gourd or snake apple, or scientifically a Ibervillea lindheimeri. It looks just like a watermelon. (I know what you are thinking, what is it with Debi and wild watermelons?) Only this one is small -- it's about the size of a jawbreaker. It's a vine that requires both a male and a female plant to produce fruit. I don't think it's edible in spite of its yummy appearance. When it ripens, it loses its watermelon stripes and turns all red.

I don't know what to say about this beauty, a bush with delicate, bright berries and striking black bark. It's the first time I've seen it. I may have to ask one of our local experts, like Mr. Burr Williams at the nearby Midland Sibley Center. The berries ranged from yellow, to red, to black based on ripeness I'm guessing. I brought along this trip some little ziplock bags and came home with about 10 of the little black berries. And high hopes.

Well, I think that's enough for one posting, don't you? Stay tuned for more photos of the Lamesa trip as time permits. Coming up next: The Critters.


John said...

true love of country - a botanist patriot - not joking.

Frances said...

lovely to look at and informative too.
You are a born teacher.
Thanks, enjoying your trips.

Bobbie said...

The plants look like they belong in paradise instead of the middle of the desert. I liked all of them and most were new to me except the commelina as it grows here in this humid climate too. A beauty.

Bobbie said...

p.s. Frances, she used to line up all the kids in the neighborhood and teach them all, of course she was only six years old!