Thursday, January 21, 2010

Naked Lotebush

"Naked Lotebush"
(Zizyphus obtusifolia)
West Odessa, Texas

This is the season when the lotebush is nothing but spines. No leaves. No blooms, no berries. On this specimen there isn't even any overwintering ovaries. Just a plant of pure spines. This is a young specimen, with spines about two inches long. I've seen older bushes where the spines were longer than my hand, at about 6 or 7 inches. Nothing to sneeze at. Or, worse, accidentally trip into!

Actually, tripping in the desert rarely turns out well.

An interesting photo essay on Sibley Nature Center site, which includes this about the remarkable ovary adaptation:

"Lotebush is a common shrub species found mixed in with mesquite bushes and tasajillo (christmas cholla cactus). When it blooms in May and June many species of insects come to nectar on the sticky waxy flowers (which are half the size of an adult human's pinkie fingernail.) After it blooms, the ovaries remain as discs until the following April and early May when blue berries appear, 11 months after insects pollinate the flowers. One other species of plant (a cactus known as Mammalaria vivipara or chilipitin cactus) on the Llano Estacado also displays this adaptation to the rainfall regime in the region (heaviest in May.)"


Bobbie said...

I don't know why, but this plant fascinates me. And now, learning about it's seed bearing it is even more fascinating.

Anonymous said...

What an interesting plant this is. Your photo gives it such importance too, it's even more interesting to me. I can see how you see by the way you show what it is you are looking at. I always learn something new here!

townsendtales said...

Where are you? I miss your postings!

Anonymous said...

I have never seen such a plant but I live in the Ozarks. I like your other photos. What kind of camera do you have? I have a new Canon but so far, I'm kind of disappointed with the photos.