Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Consolation Prize

 I began the new week with a walk up the paved path to the upper campus to check on the Goldenrod Crab Spider that has occupied the same Red Clover blossom for over a week.  It was gone!  I was very disappointed.  Evidence of weed eaters and leaf blowers all around.  On the way back to my car, as is my usual habit, I closely inspected the remaining weeds, looking for late summer blooms and the bugs they might be hosting.  I was happy to find an Ambush Bug, poised for action among the spines of a California Thistle.

A few other attractions included what I called a "Bonsai Salsify."  The main crop had grown tall and gone to seed, and were mostly flattened by foot traffic and the above-mentioned machinery.  But there are always a few trying to outlast the ravages of summer, and they have developed the abilty to bloom when only a few inches tall, much like the way dandelions and daisies respond to frequent mowings.  I always admire survivors.
 Here are the older ones, preparing to release thousands of seeds to ensure next summer's crop.
 The last plants to get my attention were the remaining Mullein.  Several by the parking lot have grown to over 7 feet tall.  Most of the blooming is done, and they are covered with pouches of seeds.  Each plant produces thousands of tiny seeds that mostly drop to the ground and grown more Mulleins nearby, or are carried by birds to other locations.  They have no projections that would allow them to be carried far by air.  I enjoy seeing a few fresh blooms at the top of each plant, even though the season, and thus the lifetime, of most of them is essentially over.  This straight-on photo shows the plant's relation to the Snapdragons.

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