Monday, June 30, 2014

Lead Plant

The lead plant (also spelled leadplant and lead-plant, also false indigo because of its resemblance to the indigo plant) appears throughout the central portion of the United States and Canada. This native Kansas perennial grows to three feet in height. The weight of the leaves and flowers cause the plant to droop. With age, it becomes woody, where not disrupted by fires or browsing from animals. The young stems and leaves are light green and covered with white hairs. New plants can be propagated from the stems.

Lead Plant, Butler County near El Dorado Lake

The small purple flowers are arranged along spikes, about 2-6" long, giving the appearance of a feather duster. The color ranges from light to deep purple. Each flower has a tubular petal.The reddish to orange stamens and yellow anthers are showy.

Lead Plant flower

Lead Plant flower

The young stems have a similar appearance to that of the unrelated fern except that the leaves alternate along a central stem. The are light green and covered with white hairs.

Lead Plant leaves

Lead Plant leaves

Native Americans used the leadplant leaves to make a tea with which they would treat pinworms, eczema, rheumatism, neuralgia, and cuts. Some tribes smoked the dried leaves and buffalo fat, believing that it could attract buffalo to the person that had it on their clothing. These tribes called the flower "buffallo bellows" as the flowering occurred at the time of year when the buffalo was in rut.

See USDA, Leadplant. 

Friday, June 6, 2014

Small Bluets

Small Bluet, Tiny Bluet, Star Violet
This tiny low growing blue flower is to be found in fields and pastures, along roadsides, and in other open sunny places, including cemeteries and lawns, sometimes painting an entire lawn blue in early spring. This patch of Small Bluets was found just outside Brownlow cemetery in Butler County, Kansas.

Small Bluet, Brownlow cemetery, April 2014
Flowers are smaller than a dime, resting at the top of a slender stem often poking up from a bed of dry grass; 4 petals, blue to purple-violet or white with a reddish-purple center and a yellow throat; always looking skyward. Blooms March-April.

Small Bluet, Kansas Wildflower
The tiny bluet is also known as the Star Violet or Tiny Bluet. It is a member of the genus Rubiaceae and Madder family.

There are even smaller species found in wet areas along creeks and river banks.

Wednesday, June 4, 2014

Prickly Pear Cactus in Bloom

The most notable thing about Time is that it is so purely relative. A large amount of reminiscence is, by common consent, conceded to the drowning man; and it is not past belief that one may review an entire courtship while removing one's gloves.

That is what Trysdale was doing, standing by a table in his bachelor apartments. On the table stood a singular-looking green plant in a red earthen jar. The plant was one of the species of cacti, and was provided with long, tentacular leaves that perpetually swayed with the slightest breeze with a peculiar beckoning motion...

Read more of O. Henry's short story The Cactus.

Prickly Pear Cactus in bloom
A conclusion for O'Henry's short story might be that love demands the truth.

Prickly Pear Cactus in bloom
This is a group of yellow and red flowers from a prickly pear cactus is in full bloom. After flowering, the succulent red fruit develops. This photo was taken in a Sedgwick County park in June of 2014. No, I am not going to tell you where.

The photo was taken with an iphone 5 while I was out for a run. Excuse my finger in the first shot.

Prickly Pear Cactus in bloom

 Moral of the story, be prepared and take your phone along with you when run.