Tag Archives: smallflower desert-chicory (Pyrrhopappus pauciflorus)

Return to life

Early July brought about the end of more than two months of flooding rains that lifted Texas from a multi-year drought with the kind of vengeance only nature can demonstrate.  In fact, from January through the end of June we received as much rain as we normally would in a full year, and most of that fell in just over two months.

Despite the marvelous rejuvenation of the landscape to which this monsoon season gave rise, something evidenced by lush greenery rising from what was once parched earth, not all plants did well.  Many Texans are now finding their lawns returning to the brown death that held them hostage for lack of water, yet this time it’s because too much water has either drowned the vegetation or stripped most nutrients from the soil.

I snapped a photo back then of a plant suffering just such a fate, something I assumed to be a kind of dandelion that had languished in standing water for more than two weeks.  That prolonged bath caused the poor thing to wilt at the time when it was trying desperately to offer up its seeds and flowers for all the world to enjoy.

The rains still come and go, something that makes for an unusual summer with temperatures lower than normal, humidity levels much higher than normal, and ground still so over-saturated as to give rise to flash floods when the sprinklers are turned on (and don’t get me started on people watering…).

Nevertheless, I found great joy in seeing that wounded life recover fully with the help of some sunshine and a lot less water.

Here is what I saw only a week after I captured that first image.

A smallflower desert-chicory (a.k.a. Texas false dandelion; Pyrrhopappus pauciflorus) burgeoning with new growth ()203_0324

As I suspected, it was a type of pseudo-dandelion.  To be more precise, it’s a smallflower desert-chicory (a.k.a. Texas false dandelion; Pyrrhopappus pauciflorus), a beautiful flower indeed.

The new stalks it grew to replace those it lost rapidly made their way toward the heavens, each burgeoning with flowers and seeds.  I felt as though it was rushing to catch up with its original schedule, and it was making that possible by exploding with growth.

A smallflower desert-chicory (a.k.a. Texas false dandelion; Pyrrhopappus pauciflorus) burgeoning with new growth (203_0327)

Yet all things come to and end.  Just a few days ago, I saw its beauty torn from its roots as a slobbering canine enjoyed a bit of digging and pawing.  One really can’t blame the dog for taking advantage of the first bit of dry ground to be seen in months.  Of course, it didn’t have to dig too much to find mud.

Too much of a good thing

Even weeds, normally the most welcoming of rain, suffered tremendously over the last several weeks as deluge after deluge inundated us with torrential, record-setting precipitation.  Some plants really can drown.

Take this milkweed for example.  I’m sure it’s a kind of dandelion, although what species it is I’m unsure of because I only noticed the poor thing when the sun finally made an appearance a few days ago.  Then it was too late, though, for the normally resilient greenery had already succumbed to the torture of spending more than two weeks under standing water.

When finally I rested my eyes upon its form, this is what I saw.

A wilted milkweed (183_8385)

Its entire crown of beauty had wilted, flowers and seeds alike, all resting upon stems bent toward the ground in a weakened state that could no longer hold them toward the heavens.

And since then?  While most of the stalk eventually died, it did give birth to a new bountiful growth which appears ready to take the place of that which it lost.  If it can survive, I mean.

[later identified as smallflower desert-chicory (a.k.a. Texas false dandelion; Pyrrhopappus pauciflorus)]