Short Sunday Drive And A Visit

Echinacea paradoxa (Yellow Coneflower) on 7-1-18, #467-15.

Hello folks! I hope this post finds you all doing very well. A week or so ago I went to visit a friend who lives a little farther in the country and noticed a few nice patches of Yellow Coneflower (Echinacea paradoxa) along the way. I had left my camera at home so I didn’t get a photo then. I am trying to remember to always take my camera because you never know what you will find to shoot. So, early Sunday evening I decided to go for a little drive. It was only a few miles away and I needed to take some photos.

 

Echinacea paradoxa is the only species in the genus to have yellow flowers. All others are purple shades. Hmmm… I thought there was a white-flowered species. Of course, that is not counting the varied colored and weird looking cultivars of Echinacea purpurea. As a matter of fact, I think I have seen a few with white flowers along the highway. Maybe they are a variation (mutation) of Echinacea purpurea. Echinacea paradoxa does hybridize with other species in the genus if they are close by.

Most of the plants are at least 3 feet tall, and some came up to my shoulder which is close to 5′. Well, I suppose I was standing a little lower than the plants. 🙂

 

The genus name comes from the Greek word, echinos, which means hedgehog or sea urchin because of the shape of the cone. The species name, paradoxa, is in reference to it being a paradox as to why its flowers are yellow instead of purple like the rest of the species in the genus. 

The cones remain erect after the flowers fade and the seeds are eaten by Goldfinches during the winter.

 

The leaves are very different from the Echinacea purpurea I brought home this spring.

 

Very interesting how a stem grows between the main stem and the leaf. Kind of like a sucker on a tomato.

I headed down the road and found…

 

A nice clump of Asclepias tuberosa known as the Butterfly Weed. I have a lot of Milkweed on the farm but NONE of these. There is a very small single clump across the back fence that I have been tempted to dig up, though. But when it is time to dig, I may not be able to find it. I could mark it with an electric fence post or something. Oh, yeah, it isn’t on our property. Oh well, maybe some will miraculously appear someday.

 

I had never been up close and personal with an Asclepias tuberosa before and this was my chance when no one was looking. Just look at this AWESOME flower!

 

Asclepias tuberosa does not have milk-sapped stems like most species of milkweeds. The flowers are a favorite food source of butterflies and bees and of course, the leaves are food for the Monarch Butterfly caterpillar.

 

The genus name comes from the Greek god of medicine, Asklepios. The species name is in reference to the plant’s deep taproot.

Then I ran across a plant I have seen along the highway in huge groups. I have often wanted to get out and photograph…

 

I didn’t know what this plant was until I got out of the car and saw its leaves. Instantly I knew it was a species of Baptisia. It is kind of hard to tell when you are driving down the highway about 60 mph. and have no safe place to pull over and investigate. When I returned home I did a search and found out it was definitely a Baptisia alba. The Wild White Indigo (or False White Indigo, False Indigo).

 

Tall flower spikes, easily between 12-18 inches long or more.

 

The flowers are pea-like, like other members of the Fabaceae family.

 

The leaves look similar to the Baptisia ‘Lunar Eclipse’ in my flower bed.

 

Not far from the first plant I saw was another small group. They had a more open growth habit and the flowers were not as close together on the stem.

I went down the road and headed back toward town. I got to my friend’s mother’s farm and decided I would get out and take a photo of her…

 

Opuntia compressa which is a species of Prickly Pear intermingled with some very healthy Poison Ivy.

 

The pads of this species are not near as thorny as the Prickly Pear I had in Mississippi. I think it was last year when I was talking to his mom when she was out working in the yard. The cactus had fruit at the time and I asked her if she had ever eaten any. She said no and went right over a picked one off and ate it. 🙂

 

She also has several Yucca filamentosa (Adam’s Needle) growing in her yard.

 

They were LOADED with flowers earlier now they are LOADED with seed pods.

Then I went down the road toward home but I had to take the opportunity…

 

To have a closer look at this Cylindropuntia imbricata (Tree Cholla). I remember earlier when I first saw it I almost ran off the road. How could I have missed it before since I had driven by it so many times? This time there was a car in the driveway so I pulled in to see if I could take a photo. Low and behold, when the lady came to the door I recognized her. She was in my sister’s class in school. Anyway, she said the cactus was her brothers but said I could take a photo.

 

She came outside and we walked in her yard so I could get a good photo of the whole thing. She seemed a little embarrassed because the crabgrass was so tall and thick and started pulling it away from the cactus. I started helping a little and said I understood. It had been hot and then it rained… Not to mention chiggers and the grass was a little wet. You know how crabgrass is. She said she wasn’t bothered by chiggers as I could almost feel my hands starting to itch. 🙂 I hate chiggers and pulling crabgrass because of them.

As we walked back to the house, she said her brother “Bill” had a lot of plants and said that was his garden as she pointed toward it. She said he had more plants in the back. Many years ago, another friend of mine lived in her house for many years and had a tackle shop behind the house. He was a very well-known rod maker and famous for “The Crappie Stick”. Anyway, Bill now lives in his old shop.

We walked to the back of the house and Bill came out. We shook hands and I told him I hadn’t seen him in years. We started talking and he took me to his garden and showed me his Prickly Pear, cucumbers, and tomatoes.

 

He had a nice group of Tiger Lilies (Lilium lancifolium) which were the real deal!

 

My grandma had these in her yard but they eventually fizzled out. Big, bright orange, spotted flowers with recurved petals. The plants are very tall.

 

One characteristic of this species is the seeds that grow along the stem.

After visiting around the garden, we walked back over to his Tree Cholla. He said he had it for around 15 years and was given his start by another old friend around the corner who passed away several years ago.

So, Sunday was a good day. I never would have thought that Bill was a gardener. I took photos of the Echinacea paradoxa which is the only place I have ever seen them growing. I was able to photograph an Asclepias tuberosa and Baptisia alba without getting run over along the highway.

What discoveries have you made recently? That’s it for now. I hope you have a great week ahead. Stay well, positive, enjoy nature when you can, and GET DIRTY!