The Great Leopard Moth, Hypercompe scribonia , can be seen flying from April to September. We have all seen the caterpillars; the black fuzzy one with red stripes, that feeds on a variety of plants to complete its life cycle. It is certainly successful at making a living on the ranch. Check out this excellent source: http://bugguide.net/node/view/493
I am not providing a picture of the invasive Japanese Honeysuckle, Lonicera japonica, because I suspect most, if not all of us recognize the vine and have fond memories of the summertime fragrance. We have found several vines on our tract. It appears to not particularly like the drought conditions, but it is here. My recommendation is to pull it out to keep it from establishing a foothold.
Do check out this excellent site for more insight: http://texasinvasives.org/plant_database/detail.php?symbol=LOJA
One of my absolutely favorite natives to have around. This is Coral Honeysuckle, Lonicera sempervirens , not to be confused with the white, invasive Japanese Honeysuckle, Lonicera japonica, the Coral Honeysuckle has no fragrance for humans to enjoy. But no fragrance is needed for the pollinators. It will bloom in early spring for the first migrants; then off and on until the first cold snap. While my original primary interest in the vine was attracting the hummers, I am learning the fruits, when available, will feed Goldfinch, Hermit Thrush, American Robin and Quail.
When looking for this vine to plant, look for the scientific name and watch carefully for the many cultivars that can be found. Plan to provide support of some kind. You will not regret adding this to your organic garden.
The plant quiz posted in May included the picture above of the American Pokeweed, Pokeberry Phytolacca Americana, in its late spring growth.
Now this native plant should be looking more like the picture above, and may be more recognizable in the summer blooming form with small white to pink blossoms. The very distinctive winter look has the black/purple berries on very red stems. This perennial can become quite large, reaching 12 feet and can be considered a weed. Prior to the berries forming, very young leaves can be carefully cooked and eaten, but otherwise all parts are toxic, including the rootstock. Early Native Americans had many medicinal uses.
The berries will attract such birds as our Northern Cardinal, Northern Mockingbird and the Gray Catbird and Brown Thrasher. It is deer resistant. The Giant Leopard Moth, Hypercompe scribonia. will use it for a host plant.
We are always on the lookout for interesting patterns in old wood.
Can you see it?
We planted this wonderful native down on our dry weather creek for bank stability. This plant likes/needs wet feet, and is perfect for the task. This is the Buttonbush Cephalanthus occidentalis. It can grow to 18′ tall and 10′ wide in full sun. The blossom looks like a button, as you can see and attracts all the pollinators; look for butterflies, bees and hummingbirds to come to it once established. It is particularly favored by our native bees. The plant is deciduous, but in my experience, some stems freeze back to the ground. The plant recovers each year to bloom in the summer. I found that used in a pond environment, any submerged portion will provide habitat for amphibians, reptiles, ducks, and fish. Some 25 species of birds eat the seeds. A native worth planting by our creeks and ponds.
This picture shows the “button” later in the season, about to go to seed.
Spurred Butterfly pea Centrosema virginianum, part of the bean (legume) family. We can find this sprawling vine from about April to September. It is vining, with no tendrils. The flower is a great nectar source and the plant is larval food plant for Long-tailed Skipper Butterfly, Urbanus proteus. It’s great for the organic butterfly garden. Thankfully, it tolerates dry conditions well. Thank you, Grady, for another great picture.
Wonderful picture from Grady of one of our native wildflowers, the Purple Pleat-Leaf Alophia drummondii. Sometimes called Pinewood Lily. This flower loves our sandy soil, and can be found blooming from April – June, in part shade. Since it doesn’t make a great cut flower, best to enjoy them where you see them; flowers remain open a very short time. In fact, they tend to wither by the noon heat. If you should want to move them into your garden, you need to sow seed in the fall.
This cute little honeybee sized guy is among the many species of Robber Flies, but this Bee Fly Diptera: Bombyliidae is another family of flies. When he is not on cameras, he can be found checking out the pollen of the flowers, and on the ground. This species lays its eggs in soil and takes a year to complete the life cycle. The larvae are parasitic on immature stages of other insects and therefore is considered beneficial.
Reviewing pictures we have taken, I found a shot of the bee fly building his burrow in the ground. I did not realize until recently, what the identity of the insect was.
If you’re driving Miller Creek Loop, you will find these water lilies as we did last Saturday in the rain.
White Water Lily, Fragrant Water Lily, Nymphaea odorata. These perennial lilies are native to Texas and only become a problem if they become too thick within their environment . Then there is a risk they will start to shade out other plants. These lilies are found in our ponds, lakes, slow streams and ditches. The plant parts and seeds benefit waterbirds and small mammals.