Friday, April 12, 2019

There’s no place like home …

In recent weeks, I have taken several drives to view

“The 2019 Texas Wildflower Season --- the Best One in 10 Years”

Only to find few and fewer wildflowers.  Boo hoo.  That is until returning to big W to find


Now, there is just no graceful way to go tromping around in someone’s front yard to take pictures of pink primrose (forever, buttercups to me), so that photo, taken from the street, will have to do.  However, the field of bluebonnets was a different story.

Adventuring in wildflowers!  My friend spied this field and we made plans to visit it.  Yes, there were bluebonnets but, there was also much more . . . .

And, are these creamy white flowers not just beautiful.  Yes!  Did I touch it?  No.  A good thing as it turned out because this is

Texas Bull Nettle – a plant very capable of defending itself from herbivores and unwary admirers of wildflowers.  While the flowers themselves are mostly harmless, the remainder of the plant is loaded with a lot of hurt in the form of tiny threads which contain histamine, folic acid plus other chemicals all of which can cause a mild to severe and painful skin irritation.  Now, there are several antidotes – you, or a close friend, can pee on the injured area.  Weird, yes but something in the urine reacts chemically and soothes the pain instantly on contact.  Or you can try a tobacco and spit poultice.  You can also try baking soda and water, making a paste for the affected area.  Now just so you don’t include this with “noxious weeds to be exterminated forever”, it has a long history of use as medicine. Extracts can be used to treat arthritis, anemia, hay fever, kidney problems, and pain. Fresh nettle is used in folk remedies to stop bleeding.  And, parts are edible – the seeds can be eaten raw; the root baked like a potato.

 Herbertia is a Texas native perennial commonly found in prairies, meadows, pastures, and untended lawns of older homes.  It’s a good source of nectar for bees and other pollinators.  It is often mistakenly called trillium, but no, we can’t grow those here – too hot and humid.

Texas Prickly Poppy, is a small erect plant with a beautiful white flower.  It has been used for long years for different things.  The oil of this white prickly poppy was used as a fine lubricant during WWII.  It also exudes a yellow latex that, in past days, was used to remove warts, treat cold sores and other skin problems.  A concoction could also be made from the flower to treat congestion from the cold or the flu.  The seeds were used as an emetic to induce vomiting or as a laxative or even as a mild sedative.  The entire plant can also be used to treat bladder infection, prostate pain, or to help the pain of migraine.  A wash made from the tea can also be used to help heal sunburns. However, if not used properly, it can be very toxic, so take care.

 Skullcap, is a hardy perennial herb native to the Northern Hemisphere. It is a member of the mint family.  Blue skullcap and common skullcap are mainly known for their traditional use for treatment of anxiety, as a sedative and a diuretic.  

This one we had a hard time identifying but finally decided on Purple Vetch.  A member of the pea family, vetch fixes nitrogen and can be grown as a cover preceding late spring-planted crops.  It is a native, drought-tolerant climbing vine excellent for sunny and partially shady locations.  Again, in past days pods, seeds, and leaves of were used as food.  A poultice of the leaves has been used to treat spider bites; an infusion of the plant has been used as eyewash.  It was also used as a panacea, an aphrodisiac, and a good luck charm.  Mostly you find Purple Vetch in warm locations as it cannot survive frost below 15° F.

Another I had never seen this before - Plains Wild Indigo.  Another member of the pea family, it has a long history of medicinal use.  An ointment made from the ground seeds was applied to the stomach for the treatment of colic.  A tea made from the roots was used in the treatment of typhoid and scarlet fever.  The leaves are astringent and were applied externally to wounds, cuts, bruises, etc.  Recent research suggests that the plant can stimulate the immune system.  However, this plant is toxic to livestock.

Huisache Daisy, also called Honey Daisy and Butterfly Daisy because, according to naturalists, its crushed leaves smell a little like honey.  This plant is attractive to bees, butterflies and birds and the flowers are slightly fragrant.

Yellow Thistle, this is a native North American species of plants in sunflower family.  It can be found from New England to Florida, Texas, and Oklahoma as well as to Mexico, Belize, Guatemala, Honduras, and the Bahamas.  It’s many uses include as an infusion of the leaves and root in whiskey used as an astringent, or taken to clear phlegm from lungs and throat. You can eat the tender, white heart of the plant raw.  And, in a pinch, use it to make blowgun darts.  It attracts butterflies (and is the larval host for the Painted Lady) and bees, making it a good addition to a butterfly garden. 

 No, not an unusual wildflower – just me trying to convince the flower to hold still or the wind to just stop for a minute or so!

12 Apr 2019


  1. Beautiful wild flowers. Thanks for the lesson.

    1. They were very pretty and I'm thinking I'd like to go back in a month or so and collect some seeds. I'm always curious about things and what floats around inside my head tends to wind up on the computer screen.

  2. Thank you for more knowledge on our backyard flowers!