A Walk in Fern Bluff Park
March 23 & 24, 2001 

Page 5: Persian Speedwell (Veronica persica), Yellow Sorrel (Oxalis dillenii), & a Chaetopappa species.

Archives of previous walks in the park: 12 May 2007 05 May 2007; 28 April 2007, 21 April 2007, 14 April 2007,  1 April 2007 Easter Egg Hunt; 24 March 2007,  17 March 2007; Nov. 03, 2001; April 04, 2001; March 25, 15, 10-11, 04, 2001; February 2418, 10, 2001

The genus Veronica is named for Saint Veronica, whose name derives from two Greek words, Veron (true) and ikon (image). According to legend, St. Veronica wiped the face of Jesus when he fell under the load of the cross, and her towel preserved the true image of his face.

By applying that name to this genus, early Christian taxonomists were expressing their appreciation for the medicinal properties of these plants. Today those properties have been confirmed. However, it is also known that one component, aucubin, can be toxic to grazing animals. The common name Speedwell derives from Old English, and refers either (1) to the fact that its petals fade and fall quickly after blooming, or (2) to the presence of these flowers along paths, trails and highways, watching over travelers and bidding them safe journey.

The bright yellow flower on the right is a sorrel. We discussed this in February when the leaves of at least two species of sorrel were found throughout the park, but without any flowers. Now that this has bloomed, we can state, with certainty, that it is the Yellow Sorrel (most likely Oxalis dillenii, O. stricta, or O. corniculata; It is a member of a family of 8 genera and 575 species, many of which may be aliases, especially among those that are difficult to distinguish from one another). 

 Oxalic acid gives the leaves, flower, stems and seedpods of this plant a pleasantly sour taste. Though long recognized as a medicinal and as a zesty salad herb, it is also known that consuming too much can adversely affect calcium uptake.

Page 6

Archives of previous walks in the park: 12 May 2007 05 May 2007; 28 April 2007, 21 April 2007, 14 April 2007,  1 April 2007 Easter Egg Hunt; 24 March 2007,  17 March 2007; Nov. 03, 2001; April 04, 2001; March 25, 15, 10-11, 04, 2001; February 2418, 10, 2001

 

The tiny blue flower at left has been blooming in the park since early February. Unfortunately, its inflorescence is very, very tiny, and for some reason I have thus far failed to get a good photo of it from above. Perhaps I should have brought it into the lab, put it under the microscope and taken a micrograph. In any case, it is without doubt a Veronica, and most probably V. persica, commonly known as the Persian Speedwell, or a close cousin to it (more than twenty Veronica species are found in this part of North America).

My thanks to Hugh Wilson, Professor, Dept. of Biology, Texas A&M University, for kindly supplying the genus, and to Tim Chumley, a doctoral candidate in the Graduate Program in Plant Biology at the University of Texas,  who has tentatively identified the species. Tim, by the way, received his B.S. and M.S. in Botany at the University of Wyoming, the latter while working at the Rocky Mountain Herbarium. Dr. Wilson did postgraduate work at the University of Wyoming before coming to Texas A&M in 1977. No doubt both of these gentlemen are well acquainted with the High Country. My experiences in the Rockies, and at Jackson Hole and Yellowstone remain among the most memorable of my life. 

The tiny white flower with eight petals, at left and below, is a  member of the Sunflower Family (Compositae), specifically of the  Aster tribe (Astereae). This information was provided by Tim Chumley, of the University of Texas, on March 27, based on the photos posted here. Later, on April 3rd, Monique Reed, Herbarium Botanist for Texas A&M University, agreed with Tim, adding that it looked like a Chaetopappa.

An internet search indicates that one species, Chaetopappa bellidifolia has been reported near here but never before in Williamson County. C. bellidifolia has been found in Travis County, in the Hamilton Pool Preserve on the east bank of the north-south stretch of Pedernales River, and in Dink Pearson County Park on the northern shoreline of Lake Travis. Three common names are published for this flower; it is referred to as the hairy least-daisy, as well as the dwarf white aster and--my favorite--the white-ray least-daisy. It normally blooms April-July, so we should have plenty of time to see it again this year. 

Bugsinthenews ... Blue Flowers ... White Flowers ... Yellow Flowers pg. 1

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