CHAPTER XIII - Heading Home

The road here is the "main road" through the park and leads back to the parking lot. Along the way are new wildflowers and trees. Purple Coneflower (Echinacea angustifolia) is an unexpected treat.

Wild Coneflowers may not be as brightly colored as their cultivated counterparts, but they arestill pretty.

Trichostema dichotomum, called Forked Blue-curls or Bastard Pennyroyal, is a dainty fall-blooming member of the mint family. Its stamens are coiled like a watch spring.

To either side of the road, the woods opens out. One open area was enlarged and disturbed up during the construction of the sewer line. The builders used it as a turn- around for their earth-moving equipment. Like the right of way, it was a mass of Croton and Bitterweed for a few years but has since made a good recovery. In the spring it is full of Vetch, Locoweed, and Bluebonnet. There are even a few yuccas.

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There is hardly a place in the Brazos valley that doesn't have Vetch in the spring. This is Vicia ludoviciana.

Small Gum Bumelias (Bumelia lanuginosa) grow along the main road. This nondescript tree is the only local member of the Sapotaceae.

Bumelias have soft, pubescent leaves and spiny branches. The small black fruits are edible.

Purpletop, Tridens flavus, is a common grass in this part of the world. When it's in flower, it has a distinctive odor and a somewhat "greasy" feel.

Along the roadsides of Texas, Indian Blanket or Firewheel is abundant in spring. Gaillardia pulchella is the more colorful species.

Gaillardia aestivalis is less showy and is the one found most in the park.

Cnidoscolus texanus) are pretty...

...but the foliage is covered with nasty stinging hairs.

Bull Nettle doesn't look much like a member of the Euphorbiaceae or Spurge Family. The seeds are edible, but it takes someone very brave to go in after them.

Another odd Euphorb is Stillingia sylvatica, Queen's Delight. Only the milky sap and the three lobed fruits give it away.


Summer brings a luxuriant growth of Hoary Pea, Tephrosia onobrychoides. It makes mounds about a foot tall, covered with pink flowers. The foliage is softly and densely pubescent.

Dayflower is a close relative of the Spiderwort. The flowers do last only a day, a feature which has led to another common name--Widow's Tears.

Linneaus named this genus Commelina after the Dutch Commelijn brothers. The two eldest brothers were prominent botanists, represented by the two large blue petals, while the small white petal signifies the third brother, who was somewhat less of an achiever.

One of the most charming grasses in Texas is Little Quaking Grass, Briza minor. The spikelets seem to be suspended in the air, quaking in the slightest breeze.

Some people think that the spikelets resemble tiny rattlesnake rattles. This plant is nice in dried arrangements, if not terribly durable.

----- Soon the parking lot is in sight, bringing an end to another field trip.

Chapter 14 - The Mesa

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