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Prairie Notes are monthly photo/journal observations from Tandy Hills Natural Area by Founder/Director, Don Young. They include field reports, flora and fauna sightings, and more, mixed with a scoop of dry humor and a bit of philosophy. They are available free to all who get on the FOTHNA email list.

Flower of the Moment and More

Prairie Notes:
June 5, 2009

1) American Basketflower
2) Green Milkweed
3) Flower Mound
4) Texas Spiny Lizard
5) Jo Kuban Memorial Mass

1) Life in a big city on Spaceship Earth in 2009 is less tedious and more beautiful thanks to one of Mother Nature's finest achievements, American Basketflower.

American Basketflower
(Centaurea americana) is part of the large, Asteraceae (Acanthus), family that includes such common prairie plants as, Yarrow, Coreopsis, Coneflower, Indian Blanket, Sunflowers, Thistles and of course, Asters. At first glance, it resembles a thistle, minus the sharp spines.

The complex geometry of it's flower head would have delighted Buckminster Fuller. Basketflower attracts bees and butterflies and is, reportedly, a winter food for dove and quail. It is also a nice visual compliment to prairie grasses.

Individual plants come in many sizes and variations, depending on location and maturity, from short stems with symmetrical little buttons to tall and noble turbans to frizzy, ragamuffins as you can see in the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center, Image Gallery:

http://www.wildflower.org/gallery/species.php?id_plant=CEAM2

It would do you good to visit the enchanting Tandy Hills - TODAY - and see them for yourself. Take the main westerly trail past the sidewalk, then turn right and head down the slope to the east for an excellent assortment of late spring wildflowers. After 5 pm is the best viewing time on the east slopes.

REMEMBER: Basketflowers, like nearly all the plants at Tandy Hills, are increasingly rare. Tread carefully.

American Basketflower
American Basketflower

American Basketflower
American Basketflower

American Basketflower
American Basketflower

American Basketflower
American Basketflower

2) Another uncommon and interesting sight at THNA is, Green Milkweed (Asclepias viridis). The rounded leaves are distinctively different from the pointed ones of the more common, Antelopehorn Milkweed (Ascelelias asperula). Careful observers can spot them in full bloom right now. Monarch and certain other butterflies go crazy for this fascinating plant despite the fact that Milkweed absorbs toxic pollutants from the air and soil.

IMPORTANT: Milkweed is toxic to humans and animals so look and photograph, but Do Not Touch!

Green Milkweed
Green Milkweed

Green Milkweed
Green Milkweed

3) Alton Bowman, of the Mound Foundation in the town of Flower Mound, is a rebel with a cause. He sent me some pics of a new plot of wildflowers he planted in his front yard that I think you'll find inspirational. Like many cities, Flower Mound has an antiquated ordinance that restricts the height of front lawns. Here's what Alton wrote about it:

Photo by Alton Bowman
Photo by Alton Bowman

Photo by Alton Bowman
Photo by Alton Bowman

"This is a 20' circle in my front yard that I tilled and planted in Native American Seed mix. Tons of butterflies and bees. We are trying to get a wildflower exemption from the 12" restriction in our lawn ordinance. Alton"

4) If you've lived in north Texas very long you've probably had an encounter with a Texas Spiny Lizard (Sceloporus olivaceus). (Most cats have, too. It's a wonder they aren't extinct.) This handsome and beneficial creature is one of several lizard species that make their homes at THNA. This one was soaking up some afternoon sunrays a few hours after a recent rainstorm and seemed quite at ease posing for me.

Spiny Lizard
Spiny Lizard

Spiny Lizard
Spiny Lizard

5) Regarding the memorial services for Joe Kuban:

Nolan Catholic School

Dear Nolan Catholic Family,

It is with great sadness that we inform you that Dr. Joe Kuban '68 passed away this morning. Joe had been suffering with ALS, a form of Muscular Dystrophy commonly known as Lou Gehrig's disease, for two-and-a-half years. He showed all of us how to live well, suffer gracefully and die with dignity. He will be missed.

Funeral services for Dr. Kuban are as follows:

Vigil
Sunday, June 7, 6:00 p.m.
Hartnett Arena on the Nolan Catholic High School Campus

Memorial Mass
Monday, June 8, 11:00 a.m.
Hartnett Arena on the Nolan Catholic High School campus.

Joe is survived by his wife, DeLane; his sons, Matthew '98 and Michael '00; his stepchildren; his brothers, Frank '66,
John '69, David '71 and Marty '71; and his sister, Annette Watson '75; and their families.

Please keep Joe, DeLane, his family and the Nolan Catholic community in your prayers.

Contact the school, here:

http://www.nolancatholichs.org/site_blog_posts/259/show_post?page_id=1

Come to the meadow and immerse yourself in the sweet spot of Fort Worth, Texas.

PS: As always, if you spot an error in my plant ID, please let me know.

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