A Walk in Fern Bluff Park
March 10 and 11, 2001 Page 1

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

Individual wildflower guides are never complete, and individual wild flowers sometimes present an imperfect picture of their species. Often the flower must be examined during two or more stages of its blooming cycle to make a more positive identification. That said, this flower appears to be either the Stemless (Oenothera triloba), or Bottle (O. primiveris) Evening Primrose. Both have yellow flowers on what appear to be leafless stems originating in rosettes of broadly-lobed basal leaves. 

The fruit of O. primiveris, which is not seen until the petals have withered, is bottle-shaped with a long neck and a rounded, though angular, surface devoid of wings. The fruit of O. triloba, on the other hand, is winged in such a manner as to resemble a pinecone. This seed cluster is nestled among the leafstalks. What appears to be O. triloba's stem is actually a long floral tube (the ovary is at ground level). 

On Sunday, March 11, another specimen of this flower was found in the northeast sector of the park. It appeared to have just opened, and was perfect in form, as the photo below shows.

 

 

 

This weekend was a good time for nature photographs, as the cloudy sky prevented the sun from casting shadows or washing out colors both Saturday and Sunday. Most of the photos were taken on Saturday. 

On Saturday, not far off the beaten path in the southeast sector of the park, this splash of yellow caught my eye. The flower petals were only partially unfurled (it was probably in the process of folding up for the day). Note the new bud to the lower left of the open flower, and the rosette of basal leaves (the circular cluster of leaves radiating from the center at ground level). Although it is hard to see this in the photo, the structure that appears to be the flower's stem is free of leaves and originates in the exact center of the basal leaf rosette (as does the stem of the unopened bud). 

In the close-up photo below, the stigma (which forms the tip of the pistil, or seed producing organ of the flower) is branched, in the shape of an X. That suggests that this plant might be a member of the genus Oenothera, of the Evening Primrose Family (Onagraceae). 

More than likely, we will find more examples of this flower in the park over the next few weeks (both species in contention bloom from March through May). It will be interesting to see how the seed cluster develops in each one. With luck, we may see both species here.

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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


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