Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Blooming bushes

Bushes provide the current "best flower show" at Selah this month.

The combination of tall grasses which are still standing and now are mostly tan, and small amounts of rain, have reduced the show of wildflowers this spring. However blooming bushes this spring have been looking good. So here is a selection of bushes and small trees that are blooming now.

J David said that my pictures don't show what the plant looks like, so the top pictures in each case shows leaves and more of the plant.

Agarita (Berberis trifoliata) is a common bush on the Preserve. It has compound leaves with 3 stiff leaflets (with 5 points on each leaflet). Their sharp points make it difficult to pick the beautiful red berries that ripen in June and make a delicious jelly.

Rusty Blackhaw
Rusty Blackhaw (Viburnum rifidulum) is a pretty small tree with shiny opposite leaves that turn a beautiful rusty red in the fall. The berries start as a pinkish color and turn dark blue as they ripen. Birds love to eat them.

This crabapple (Pyrus sp.) tree is by a creek and blooms early each year. Because it blooms before or with its leaves, it looks snowy white when it first starts to bloom. Even though it had been blooming for weeks when I took this picture, I was still able to find some fresh blossoms.

Texas Lantana
Texas Lantana (Lantan urticoides) has red, yellow and orange blossoms. This pink and lavender variety came from a nursery and is in our yard. The leaves have a distinct odor and the berries are small, dark blue and ripen in late summer or early fall.

Texas Redbud
Texas Redbud (Cercis canadensis var. texensis) is a drought tolerant native bush or small tree. It blooms early (March and April) and adds a bright splash of color to the landscape in early spring while winter colors dominate. Its leaves sprout while it is blooming, which are shiny green and heart shaped. This tree which is in the Bean Family has clusters of flat, deep red bean pods that ripen in the fall.

Texas Mountain Laurel
Texas Mountain Laurel (Sophora secundiflora) is an evergreen shrub or small tree frequently found on limestone hillsides. It has dark green shiny compound leaves with leaflets on either side of the main stem (like a feather), and one at the tip. In spring the purple blooms smell like grape Kool Aid. They bloom in some places as early as February. They are in the Bean Family and their pods are silver grey, and are 3 to 5 inches long. They contain bright orange/red seeds that are very hard and ripen in September. Children call the seeds "burn beans" because you can rub them on cement and they get hot enough to feel like you're being burned if they are pressed against sensitive skin. Leaves and seeds are poisonous to cattle, goats, sheep and humans. Because the seeds are very hard they often pass through the digestive tract intact and cause no harm. The Mountain Laurel I learned in North Carolina is a different plant than the Texas Mountain Laurel, and has different flowers leaves and seeds.

There are probably more bushes blooming right now, but the ones in this post are the ones that caught my eye. They are definitely the showy ones around my house and around Madrone Lake.

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