Monday, October 02, 2006

Flower Fest - B for Buffalo Bur


This is the Buffalo Bur from the Solanum rostratum genus. Beautiful and a rather unusual bloom, right? Maybe, but don't let it fool you! It's barely 1 inch across in width and is the bane of most off-road cyclists. Look at those blurry spiky things that are in sharper focus in my next picture; they're why.



Buffalo Bur is from the Nightshade family and apparently, the foliage and the unripe fruit of most nightshades contain dangerous levels of a steroid alkaloid, solanine. The ripe berries are the least toxic part of these plants. And if you haven't guessed it already, yes, it is classified as an weed.

Buffalo bur has long, yellow spines on stems, leaves, and flower heads as can be seen in the photo above. They grow up to 2 feet high and are drought resistant. The flowers bloom in summer so I guess I was rather lucky to find these on the trails towards the end of September. By fall, the spiny fruit or the berries, if you will, develop and are up to 1/2 inch in diameter. These are filled with black, wrinkled, flat pitted seeds. When the seeds mature, the stem breaks close to the ground and the plant rolls scattering the thousands of seeds it produces. (source: Colorado State University Cooperative Extension, Denver)

Apart from being a weed, its status in Colorado continues to be dubious. It's a host for the Colorado potato beetle and so control of this weed is strongly recommended. But given by the number of plants I saw just on our trail, it seems to flourish in the protected Open Spaces of Louisville, Colorado.

A huge thank you to Al Schneider of South West Colorado Wildflowers, Ferns and Trees for identifying this wildflower, I mean weed, for me!

Flower Fest - the A-Z of FlowersThis is my entry for the letter B in the Flower Fest - the A - Z of Flowers.

Flower Fest is the brainchild of Nature & Me and Sree. Every two weeks, the focus will be on a letter of the English alphabet. The current letter is B. I am submitting photographs of flowers as my entries.

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11 introspections:

Sree October 03, 2006 10:13 AM  

*where* do you find these flowers! I love wild flowers and this one is great too.. the fruit looks really interesting!Thats a very novel entry for "B"!

shilpa October 03, 2006 5:30 PM  

Oh wow..thats a very cute flower. I don't think I have seen it before. Where do you get those flower names Manisha? Though I see many flowers here daily, I hardly know their names.

Manisha October 03, 2006 5:44 PM  

Sree, where? Out in the protected Open Spaces in and around Louisville. Open Spaces are like preserved acreages of land where the city does not permit any development of any kind. The city builds trails through these Open Spaces so that we can walk, bike, hike and enjoy the nature around us. But believe me, this is not a fruit you want to get involved with - it's nasty! The spikes are very sharp and I had a tough time getting a close-up!

Shilpa, I'd never seen it before last week either! I usually look for the flowers on the net by color, characteristics, location and I get a general idea of what the species might be. Then I look for pictures on the USDA Plant web site. I also look on other web sites like South West Colorado Wildflowers and match pictures. I have a bunch of books on Colorado Wildflowers that I have borrowed that help me as well. In this particular case, I couldn't find the wildflower easily and I had help from the very knowledgeable Al Schneider.

It's a wonderful feeling to know their names and their characteristics. When I go out for walks now, I can identify so many of the plants I see. It's look, look some more, compare, search, find, and most of all enjoy!

Vin October 03, 2006 6:19 PM  

I like the first photo. The focus is accurate and the flower is beautiful. Its really fascinating to see beautiful wild flowers. Before the flower fest started I hardly knew there were any beautiful looking wild flowers. I was used to seeing the beautiful ones in gardens and parks.
FlowerFest Rocks !!!

Manisha October 03, 2006 9:46 PM  

Vin, I'm glad you like the first one; I do, too. Would you believe that the flower is barely an inch in width? I went out on the same trail this weekend, just 5 days after I took these pictures, and the flowers were quite spent, rather like the flowers in the background. My timing, the first time, was just right! Buffalo Bur is believed to have originated in the Western Plains but is now found all over the US. So the next time you see some yellow wildflowers swaying in the wind with lots of spines on their leaves, stem and berries, stop to take a look cos it could be the Buffalo Bur! Or it could be a nettle, a close relative from the nightshade family.

Wildflowers are gorgeous and every state has their 'native' plants. I'm totally hooked on wildflowers. I just got another bunch of books on Colorado Wildflowers from the library! I have always loved taking pictures of the strange leaf or plant or flower on every hike I went on. But my interest never went beyond being amazed at nature. Flower Fest has taken it one step further where, now, I need to know more and more about the flower! You bet Flower Fest rocks!

Paavani October 03, 2006 10:14 PM  

As both are the same picture, 1st is the magnified one.
Apart from the good picture, I loved that you are concentrating on wild flowers which are actually improving the knowledge and same time initiating to look for such wild creatures when going on trek or even around.

Manisha October 03, 2006 10:24 PM  

Paavani, both pictures are of the same flower and plant but they are two separate images. The first is a close macro shot of the flower. The second one is also a macro shot but not as close a macro as the first, as the plant is not large (thick?) even though it grow up to 2 feet in height. The objective of including the second one was to show the entire plant.

Since you mentioned wild creatures, I must tell you that there are more than just wildflowers in the Open Spaces. A mountain lion was sighted in the middle of a street lined with homes near an Open Space just last week! We've had deer spring right past us! We hear coyotes every night. And - so that I can frighten Shilpa - there are always the snakes! :-D

Anonymous October 05, 2006 4:05 PM  

Beautiful flower and you have an inquisitive mind that makes you go through websites and books...cool work and gr8 picture

Paavani October 05, 2006 10:54 PM  

Voila, What are you talking? I will love that place.
I never had encounter with Lion.
Even by being in Gujarat did not visit the Gir wildlife sanctuary.

Linda October 07, 2006 5:34 PM  

Hi Manisha -- first time I've seen this other site of yours -- lovely photos! Don't you love that wildflower site -- I bookmarked that when I was trying to identify vacation snaps. Thanks for sharing your pics :)

Manisha October 08, 2006 2:42 PM  

Shankari, good to see you here! Thanks for all the warmth you send my way, as always! I find this very relaxing and it brings me closer to nature. If you have even just a teeny interest, try it!

Paavani, you need to visit then! I haven't come face to face with a mountain lion either (they're not like lions, they are smaller and are also known as cougars) but when the deer sprang right by us, we wondered how far behind them the mountain lions might be! It was soon after the sightings on that very trail!

Linda, it's great to have you here! The S-W Colorado Wildflowers web site is clearly a labor of love. I have spent hours and hours there! I hope to see more of you here. And, knowing how you feel about nature, consider participating in the Flower Fest. We just moved to the letter 'C'.

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