Tuesday, April 10, 2012

I is for ....

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   For today's letter I found a really unique flower..."Indian Pipe" Monotropa uniflora . This little flower is white because it has no chlorophyll. Chlorophyll is what makes plants green. The flower does not produce its own food, like other plants. It actually lives off the fungus on the forest floor in the deep woods of East Texas. This flower blooms from April through October.

Picture from University of Texas Plant Resource Guide

   I think I will take a walk in the woods and look for these little flowers myself. I have seen quite a lot of colorful mushrooms and fungus but not these, yet.

   Another very popular plant in Texas is the Indian Paintbrush, but did you know there are eight different types. Here are 2 of them, may I present to you the "Texas Paintbrush" Castilleja indivisa  and the "Prairie Paintbrush" Castilleja purpurea  var.  purpurea.

Picture from University of Texas Plant Resource Guide
   The "Texas Paintbrush" is the one on the left. It is actually composed of numerous flowers. But what makes this flower such a stand out is not the flowers... it is the red tipped bracts that grow underneath each flower. This flower is also sown through out the state by the highway department. It is native to the sandy prairies of East Texas. The "Prairie Paintbrush" grows in the rocky calcareous prairies of Central and North-Central Texas. Like its cousin, its color also depends on the colored bracts under the flowers. Both bloom in the spring from March through May with the "Texas Paintbrush" lasting into June as well.

   There is a fact both Indian plants on today's post share. The Indian Paintbrushes, while producing some of their food through photosynthesis, tap into their neighboring plants root systems for food as well.