Brisk northeasterly winds raise dust clouds and usher in a late round of frigid spring temperatures. The prairie suspends its capricious advance to glorious wild flower carpets. Browbeaten by drought and unrelenting winds, the first clumps of Rose Heath Aster, buds of Scarlet Globe Mallow, and emerald green globes of Broom Snakeweed defy the elements with timid splashes of color. Veteran high plains survivors such as yucca, brothers to the sun and winds, bristle with expectations of life-giving rains to stimulate their golden blooms. In an ecosystem fraught with spikes, spines, and thorns where survival often depends on strong defensive countermeasures, Redstem Filaree, a European invasive continues its colorful invasion of less-traveled ranch roads.
On the Northern Llano Estacado the first blooms of White Aster (chaetopappa ericoides) aka Baby-White Aster or Rose Heath Aster appear in early April. This perennial forms low patches from creeping roots. They thrive in the open prairie in dry, sandy, and gravelly habitats or on rocky, eroded hillsides. Their bracts are lanceolate and overlap. The terminal, solitary flower heads consist of yellow disk florets and 12-24 white ray florets. The ray florets dry to a pale rose. Historically, native cultures in the Americans Southwest use White Aster medicinally to treat snakebites, nose ailments, toothaches, rheumatism, and swellings.
© Ilija Lukić 2012
© Ilija Lukić 2012
|White Aster Quartet (chaetopappa ericoides)|
|Scarlet Globe Mallow Buds|
|White Aster Triumvirate|
|Broom Snakeweed Revival|
|Yucca Flats Denizens (yucca campestris)|
|Rose Heath Aster Patch (aka White Aster)|
|Prickly Pear Surprise (opuntia macrorhiza)|
|Best Offense Is A Strong Defense (Cane Cholla)|
|Pack Rat Pruning Service|
|Brother To The Sun (yucca campestris)|
|Ranch Road Filaree (erodium cicutarium)|