Welcome to austinagrodolce … My family and I garden with more intention and enthusiasm than allocated budget or overall design plan. It shows. Wildlife populations don't seem to notice our lack of cohesive design, they just like the native plants here. It seems by growing local we've thrown out a welcome mat. Occasionally, we're surprised at who (and what) shows up.

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

In the eye of the beholder

According to online sources, the term "weed" is typically applied to any plant "that is not valued where it is growing and is usually of vigorous growth (especially: one that tends to overgrow or choke out more desirable plants)."

But that term cannot possibly be applied (in my garden beds at least) to the Bristly Mallow (Modiola caroliniana).  Not only do I love the way it looks in bloom, far from choking out more desirable plants, it grows and blooms when and where little else seems happy, in early Spring around the base of our back yard bird feeder's post.

Round fruit forming, referred to as "wheel shaped schizocarps".  A schizocarp is a dry fruit that splits into two or more one-seeded portions at maturity.

Low growing, with the most amazing tiny (half inch wide or less) coral to orange flowers, it takes a good lean-down to observe the starburst of red anthers dancing above the familiar mallow form of its blossoms.

Reportedly people traditionally prepared medicinal infusions of the leaves (the seeds are toxic) along with using the leaves in fresh salads.  But I wouldn't dream of harvesting these plants at the moment.  I'm too busy being captivated by the delicate coral colored blossoms highlighted against the contrasting chartreuse colored fruit.

In other news - I spotted the first hummingbird of the season at our back yard feeder this afternoon.  I put both our feeders up about 10 or so days ago when I noted other local bloggers were reporting their first sightings.  This photo is from another year but is a close match to the bird I saw today which I believe is an immature black chinned hummingbird.  Hummingbirds put on quite a show each year and I'm always happy to welcome these visitors back.

Given my oak allergies (readers will be freely forgiven for wondering how many more mentions this topic will get) I admit at this time of year it might seem only sensible to limit my garden observations to whatever I can see from our windows.  But with tiny birds and even tinier flowers out to play, any definition of sensible will have to yield to the delights on offer.


Debra said...

That is a really pretty flower. I even like the shape of the leaves. And the first hummingbird of the year! Congrats!!

Kathleen Scott said...

I haven't seen this 'weed' before but I'm inclined to echo your sentiments. Hard to diss any mallow family member really.

Glad you're seeing hummers. The pace is picking up.

TexasDeb said...

Debra: Thanks for dropping by. I agree - the flowers are lovely. Too bad most folks consider bristly mallow to be a "broadleaf weed". I consider it a welcomed guest!

TexasDeb said...

Kat: And a vote of thanks to you for putting up the "they are back!" sign on your blog. I count on your early arrivers to let me know when to put my own welcome mat out.

So tell me - did you find homes for those sweet cats yet?

Cat said...

Two of my favorites: orange/coral blooms and hummingbirds; oh, happy day!

TexasDeb said...

Cat: Happy to oblige. Our favorites clearly overlap!

Tina said...

I'll second Cat's comment--that is such a beautiful little flower, I've never seen it before. I haven't seen any hummers yet--that's a great photo.

TexasDeb said...

Tina: If you haven't seen any Bristly Mallow it is probably because it is considered a broadleaf weed and most people work assiduously to keep it out of their lawns and flower beds.

Does all that intentional snubbing and eliminating make me like it even more? You bet it does! I'm going to try to harvest seed and get a patch established out front if I can. I'm betting deer won't touch it.

Kathleen Scott said...

Thanks for your comment at Hill Country Mysteries about Sarge and Mellow. I understand about not being able to take in 2 more--I can't do it either.

But could you send an email to your friends including the link? If enough people see them, someone will want them.



TexasDeb said...

Kathleen - WRT Sarge and Mellow? Consider it done.

Jason Dingley said...

That's a very pretty variety. Much more attractive than the variety I get in my garden.

TexasDeb said...

Jason: The mallow family takes lots of forms and what you've got in your veggie beds looks more problematic. Mine isn't competing with precious veg either. I quite understand your desire to avoid a veggie box filled with mallow rather than kale!