Flynn Bogs Chapter III

CHAPTER III - Sandy Pasture above the Roadside Seep


Where the bog stops and the sandy pasture begins, an entirely different set of plants takes over. Many of the species flourish only where soils are deep and sandy.

Quite noticeable is a dramatic change in tree species. Gone are the Sweetgums, Birches, and Hollies. The dominant tree here is Quercus incana (Bluejack or Sandjack Oak). These are smallish trees, not as large as Post Oaks, with distinctive elliptic, silvery-gray leaves.

Among the Bluejacks one can find Viburnum nudum (Possumhaw Viburnum). These large shrubs have shiny opposite leaves.

In the fall they have dark-blue fruits. This plant looks much like V. rufidulum (Rusty Blackhaw), but can be distinguished by its entire leaf margins--as you can see below, Rusty Blackhaw has tiny teeth.

Tying the Bluejacks and Possumhaw Viburnums together is quite a lot of Smilax laurifolia (Laurel Greenbriar). It is probably our most easily-recognized Smilax species, having narrow, leathery, dark-green leaves instead of the broader, thinner, light-green leaves of most other species. It does have the same wire-tough stems and wicked prickles of all its cousins, though. They don't call it "Blaspheme Vine" vine for nothing!

A gentler, more graceful plant is Agrostis hyemalis (Winter Bentgrass, Tickle- grass, not shown). It has loose panicles and slender stems that sway in every breeze. There is quite a lot of it on a little rise above the seep, and when the wind blows, it looks like a golden ocean.

Some of the wildflowers of this sandy area are also beautiful and might make good additions to the home garden. The brilliant scarlet blossoms of Penstemon murrayanus (Cupleaf Penstemon) contrast nicely with its grayish-green leaves. The tubular flowers are pollinated by hummingbirds, but bees have been known to chew holes at the base of the corolla to get at the nectar within.

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Another pretty plant found only in areas of deep sand is Rhododon ciliatus (Angled Hedeoma). It has bright magenta flowers and a minty, antiseptic smell. This fragrance persists even in long-pressed herbarium specimens.

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Baptisia nuttalliana (Nuttall Wild Indigo) makes compact mounds. In the spring, this perennial is covered with bright yellow, pea-like flowers.

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One annual that can make quite a show is Drummond Phlox (Phlox drummondii). Its flowers range in color from pink to red, rose, magenta, white, and every shade in between. Texas is thought to be the center of origin for the genus.

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Daisy-like flowers that can be found here are known as Arkansas Lazydaisy (Aphanostephus skirrhobasis, not shown).

Together with Dwarf Dandelion (Krigia sp.), ....

Venus' Looking-glass (Triodanis texana),

and Sand Phacelia (Phacelia patuliflora, not shown), they make quite a show in spring.

Queen's Delight (Stillingia sylvatica) doesn't have showy flowers, but its erect habit and glossy foliage are attractive. This member of the Euphorbiaceae (Euphorbia or Poinsettia family) has tiny yellowish-green flowers and milky sap.

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Many other species found here aren't showy at all, but invite a closer look anyway. This is what is known as doing "belly botany".

Two inconspicuous but interesting members of the Caryophyllaceae (Carnation family) are Paronychia drummondii (Drummond Nailwort) and Loeflingia squarrosa (Spreading Loeflingia, not shown).

Both are smallish plants with tiny flowers. Paronychia has pointed white sepals.

Loeflingia has needle-like leaves and looks somewhat like a seedling Juniper.

Evax candida (Silver Evax or Rabbit Tobacco, not shown), on the other hand, looks like nothing else. The grayish-hairy plants hide their tiny flowers in tufts of cottony hair. This furry little plant is actually in the sunflower family (Asteraceae).

Unless one already knows the family for this plant, it might be hard even to figure out whether it's a monocot or a dicot. It has flowers with parts in multiples of four, but the leaves are linear and grass-like. This is Bristle Bract Plantain (Plantago patagonica, not shown). Note the papery flowers and densely pubescent foliage.

Here is another tricky--but common--plant of the sandylands. Croton argyranthemus (Silver Croton) is a member of the Euphorbiaceae, but it doesn't have milky sap. The flowers and the undersides of the leaves are covered with shiny silvery- gold scales. There are many species of Croton in Texas; some have scales like this one, while others are furry with stellate hairs. Telling them apart can be difficult--in botany, details are everything.


Chapter IV - Alder Thicket and Pond


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