As we neared the outcrop, anticipation mounted. We had already seen so many beautiful flowers. The minute the vehicles stopped, we were off! There was a lot to look at before we even set foot on the rock itself.
The air was sweet with an elusive perfume. At first, we thought it was coming from the Cooperia plants.
They are rather lily-like and look as if they would smell good. The long, strap-like leaves and the pink and white flowers appear like magic after a rain--hence the common name Rainlily.
The scent, though, was probably coming from Gaillardia suavis.
This Blanket Flower, as shown here, lacks the showy ray florets common to other species such as G. pulchella (below) and it has to use its Gardenia-like aroma to attract pollinators.
Another not-very-showy plant is Euphorbia spathulata (Warty Euphorbia).
It has tiny unisexual flowers grouped in inflorescences called cyathia. In this species, the ovary and fruit are dotted with tiny warts. The closely-related E. texana is nearly identical, except for the smooth fruits. You'd never guess these were cousins of the Poinsettia!
There is a lot of Least Daisy (Chaetopappa asteroides) in the area. These tiny, daisy-like plants have white ray florets that curl under with age.
Several interesting shrubs grow around the base of the outcrop. Texas Persimmon, Diospyros texana, is a common plant in the central part of Texas. There are male and female plants-- these photos are of a female. The marble-sized black berries are edible. They are a favorite food of raccoons and ring-tailed cats.
Agarita, Mahonia trifoliolata (= Berberis trifoliolata) also has edible fruits. Bright red when ripe, they make pretty good jelly. The bright yellow flowers and interesting (but prickly) foliage make this a popular plant for home landscapes.
Go on to the Base of the Outcrop