Friday, October 5, 2012

NAMELESS BEAUTY


Do you recognize this? I found it during yesterday's ramble in an old field up the road. Just this single plant, all but lost amidst a sea of burnished goldenrod and fading asters.

My first thought was some sort of vetch. But then I wondered if it might be one of the clovers. Surely a member of the vast legume family…though possibly not. Native? Escapee from the garden? I ought to know this on sight; there's a part of my brain that keeps whispering, Why you big dummy, that's…at which point the whisper fades. No doubt it's quite common. 

I've thumbed through several field guides, yet nothing seems a good match. Part of the trouble is the plant appears rather past its prime. Of course, I don't know that for sure, either. And naturally I didn't pay sufficient attention to the necessary details in order to key it down in one of my better references. 

Whatever it is, I thought it was pretty, nodding demurely in the afternoon breeze as the sky began clouding up preparatory to today's storm front. For me, a nameless beauty. 

9 comments:

KGMom said...

Doing Internet research--is it a kind of tick trefoil?

Grizz………… said...

KGMom…

Oh, ho! You may be onto something. I never even considered a trefoil. But maybe another one of the trefoils, because I've given it a quick look (heading for bed) and my plant doesn't seem to me to match the few tick trefoil shots I compared it to—or not what I think tick trefoil should look like, especially not the "beggar's lice" seedpods. Plus the still furled blooms look a little too long. Tomorrow, though, I'll research the whole lot of 'em, because you may very well be on the right track…and I may just be too sleepy.

Thank you. You've given me a whole new line of thought. I have a sneaky suspicion it's just me drawing a blank for whatever reason (still think I ought to know the stuff) and the plant is widespread and common.

Robin said...

Guara. One of my favorite perennials... it bobs and dances in the wind like butterflies.

Seem like a good match, Grizz?

Robin said...

Oh, and by the way... just this year we got some that had rainbow striped stems. Had never seen those before.

Grizz………… said...

Robin…

Ahh…the plot thickens: guara? Something else I hadn't considered, mainly because the only examples I've seen are of one called biennial beeblossom, usually on prairies sites. But that species is a much paler pink (no magenta) and blooms in August, during the hottest weather. And it just doesn't quite look like this plant, either. I'm not sure if we have more than one or two species of gaura—native or introduced—growing wild here in Ohio; most tend to be found more to the South, and Southwest, heat-loving plants. Of course this could be a garden escapee. But it sure looks close.

I guess I'm going to have to do what I failed to do the other day—return to the field and give this plant a good look, from basal leaves to seed-pods. With Newcomb's in hand, maybe I can then key it down…or at least come away with the info for someone who really knows what they're doing to make the call.


Johanna said...

I photographed something similar a month ago and decided it was Gaura biennis. It was located in a weedy-wildflowery spot in east central IL. It had a lot of variation in color--even on the same plant, some flowers were almost white, others dark pink. I'm not certain on the species, but I think genus Gaura is a safe bet.

Grizz………… said...

Johanna…

Yes, indeed, I think Robin called it right—though I'm still not quite certain it's G. biennis, which is the one species I've seen a few times, and maybe the only one native to Ohio. (I need to check this point further.) I keep looking and comparing photos, and can't quite convince myself they are the same. But the fact that some of the ones you photographed were a much darker shade of pink—I'd call it magenta on the plant I saw—makes me feel that most likely it is just a particularly colorful Gaura biennis. Some sort of Gaura almost certainly. Thank you.

Johanna said...

This website has some good ID info about G. biennis vs G. longiflora--the Gaura is under 'prairie wildflowers' (I have trouble with the link to the actual gaura page.)
http://www.illinoiswildflowers.info

Grizz………… said...

Johanna…

Yes it does. Thank you. In fact, it was one of the sites I looked at right after Robin suggested my plant was probably one of the Gauras; plus I looked there again after your comment.

My problem is I'm sure it isn't G. longiflora, but I can't quite convince myself it's G. biennis, either…though when all is said and done, I suspect the latter species is likely the correct answer. My plant is probably just a scraggly and more intensely colored example.