Journal archives for January 2021

January 12, 2021

Winter-blooming wildflowers: Part I

For those of us eager for spring--or at least the first signs of spring--searching for winter-blooming wildflowers is a great way to feed the soul. The bigroot springparsley (Vesper macrorhizus) is one of the earliest winter-blooming wildflowers in Texas. It's also very easy to overlook because it hugs the earth and definitely isn't what one would call showy. Formerly known as Cymopterus macrorhizus, it's a member of the carrot family (Apiaceae). It can be found from central Texas northward into SW Oklahoma and eastern New Mexico (BONAP map).

As of today, there are only two observations of Vesper macrorhizus in January--one is in full bloom (congratulations @franpfer --you currently hold the record for the earliest documented Vesper macrorhizus in full bloom) and the other is budding out (that would be one observed by yours truly--the earliest documented specimen as of right now). Peak bloom period appears to be March based on iNaturalist data.

I've had most luck finding these in country cemeteries because they grow so low to the ground. If the vegetation is tall, they're much harder to see and may be outcompeted by taller vegetation (speculation on my part).

But be careful with your identifications as a conspecific occurs sympatrically in some areas--Vesper montanus (BONAP map). And I have no clue how to distinguish them! But @nathantaylor has provided some thoughts and maybe he'll stop by here and talk with us some more about these two species.

So head out if you can, and see if you can find this spectacular beauty, er, hidden gem, er, ugly duckling?

Posted on January 12, 2021 01:59 by pfau_tarleton pfau_tarleton | 11 comments | Leave a comment

January 27, 2021

Winter-blooming wildflowers: Part II

Anemones!

It's officially the beginning of Anemone season here in Texas. We kick off the season this year with the first and second observations of Anemone in bloom here on iNaturalist. Congratulations @franpfer and @humblegardener!

There are still many gaps in our knowledge of Texas Anemones. I'll get to those in a moment, but first, here's how to identify the species of Anemone in Texas and adjacent states. Be sure to photograph the key features needed to identify them.

So what what are the gaps in knowledge that iNatters can help with?

  • There are some gaps in the distribution of Anemone edwardsiana in the Hill Country. Are those gaps real and the populations are disjunct, or are the gaps just a reflection of lack of observations in those areas? A recent post by @bacchusrock of an earlier observation has pushed their iNaturalist-documented distribution westward.
  • Over the past two years, we made much progress on documenting Anemone caroliniana. We might still find some populations of Anemone caroliniana in the DFW area. Beyond DFW, this species remains poorly documented.
  • In the western half of Texas and into eastern New Mexico, we have an unresolved issue of Anemones with an unusual morphology. Thanks to @kayakqueen for posting the first observations of these in the Lubbock area. Do they represent an undescribed species? More observations of these across western Texas and eastern New Mexico, carefully documenting morphological variation of all the plants anatomy, will prove useful. I'm hoping to do some genetic work to help address this question also.
  • A couple of years ago, the most recently described species, Anemone okennonii, was known from only three locations. It was discovered by @bob777 in 1992 in Kimble County. Thanks to several iNatters, we now have many new observations between the Edwards Plateau and West Texas...and maybe even up to southeastern New Mexico.

Special thanks to @kimberlietx, without whom I would certainly still consider this to be just an ugly yard weed.

So, keep your eyes peeled for this winter- and early-spring-blooming wildflower!

Posted on January 27, 2021 02:33 by pfau_tarleton pfau_tarleton | 5 comments | Leave a comment