Flower, Flower, in the field…

Last spring we discovered a new-to-us non-native flower growing on the place, several patches of Scarlet Pimpernel (which in Texas look orange, not scarlet, but do have striking magenta down near the ovary.   It looked like this:



Today, R- found a similar looking flower on a different-looking plant, and so far we’re uncertain of the correct ID, because although it’s superficially similar in flower structure, it’s not exactly the same, and the plant looks completely different, with deeply cut leaves rather than entire leaves, as seen on the Scarlet Pimpernel.


The Scarlet Pimpernel grew on soil near the fence of the construction yard, where the washwater from their power-washing machinery spreads.  Most of the plants have some bare soil around them.  The new, deeper red, flower grows in more natural soil, farther away from the construction company fence, among other native forbs and grasses.  The new flowers, photographed with R-‘s small camera in situ, look much paler, but the color of the single one (my camera) is what the eye sees.

From my first field guide search, and several online searches, the new one is in the Geranium family, and if the flower were larger (an inch across instead of more like 1 cm) I’d bet on “Bloody Geranium,” an alien planted in gardens, but it isn’t that big.   The finely cut leaves and the greater number of stamens fit the Geranium family.   More pictures tomorrow, weather permitting.  (The single flower, by the way, is propped up in a cup of rice to hold it motionless while I took several shots.


7 thoughts on “Flower, Flower, in the field…

  1. Hi – up here in New Hampshire the flowers have not come out yet. How do you think these foreign plants arrived? Escapes from domestic gardens or seeds carried by trucks, trains, cars, etc.?
    And then, are these competitive with native plants?

    Do you weed out these plants? Are they making seeds?

    Inquiring minds want to know. But plants are amazing. Long after we are gone they will be making beauty.

    Stay safe and sane,

    Jonathan up here in Chilly from the wind New Hampshire

    1. A lot of the non-native plants were deliberately brought by people who loved them back where they came from. They were in gardens, yes. All over the country, you can find plots (sometimes cemeteries, sometimes where a house was) with the building long gone and the space outlined by garden plants. Once, on a bare slab of rock on Fort Hood, with I saw two thriving lilac bushes/trees. (I was there on a birdwatching trip.) Scars on the rock indicated that there had been a small house, and in addition to the lilacs (blooming away, very healthy) part of a house corner and a front walk were edged in yellow iris.

      The Scarlet Pimperhel is a definite invader (listed as an invasive plant with toxic properties) and its position near the site of the construction company’s power-washing suggests the machinery picked up the plant along with soil being moved…and then it was swept of the machinery, through the fence onto our land, along with enough water to sustain it so it could survive to set seed. The sources I read say it’s very, VERY hard to eliminate Scarlet Pimpernel, and not to handle it because it will give you a rash and even “burn.” We go after the bug alien thistles were gusto (still have them, still trying to dig them out before they get too big in spring. When we’re gone, they may take over again. So many invasive plants have lots of tiny seeds!!

  2. That doesn’t look at all like what I would call scarlet pimpernel, which is also known as eggs and bacon (as it can be all eggs, all bacon or a mix) , and is a member of the pea family. There are several common flower names I have realised mean completely different flowers to the ones I was visualising as I’m reading an American or indeed Australian or Canadian book, mostly it doesn’t matter, but just occasionally it means a passage makes no sense.

    They are both pretty, the first looks like what my mother would have called a rock rose, which I thought came from the US to British gardens, though of course they could still be American and not remotely native to your part of Texas; we had two or three of them in different colours the rockery. I hope you have managed/manage to avoid any rashes when you removed the scarlet pimpernel. Apart from being too small to be a bloody geranium I’d say the flower is also too flat to be one, they have a centre that stays cup shaped while the outer part of the petals flatten out.

  3. At least superficially it does look like a young Malvaceae (mallow family) of some sort. In this family, at first only the anthers are visible, arranged around a tube made of their fused filaments. Check it later: if a 5-parted stigma comes out of the middle after a lot of the pollen is gone, that would be the right family. (Think of cotton or hollyhock.) My best guess would be a Sphaeralcea, maybe S. coccinea? I have umpteen pictures of Malvaceae, since I spent years analyzing their fatty acids, but none from Texas unless you count cotton.

  4. Dear Elizabeth Moon:

    Glad that you are doing well; miss seeing your posts on Facebook, so I check in here on your blog frequently. Yes, invasive plants are a problem; I’ve been pulling up Lawn burweed (Soliva sessilis), which comes up easily and has lots of BB-sized seeds which stick to fur and clothing. > https://plants.ces.ncsu.edu/plants/soliva-sessilis/ <

    Looking forward to reading your next story. I'm getting my second Moderna anti-COVID vaccine shot on the 29th, but will still be following the CDC's anti-infection guidelines; since I began wearing a mask in March of 2020, I have not been ill at all! Good luck to you and yours. Aloha from north Alabama near Ruffner Mountain!

    1. I’m with you on the mask-wearing. Nice not to have several colds because I wasn’t around nearly as many people AND I was wearing a mask. Especially since colds, these last few years, have always ended in a nasty bronchitis that saps my energy for a week or more after the cold proper is gone. As of last week, all three of us have had two shots of Pfizer’s vaccine and are doing fine (well, R- and I finished our up on March 1; M- finished his last week.)

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