Winter Coastal Blooms

Here are the bluish ones. These may be “regular” spiderworts, because those are not such hairy buds.

Some of our readers are still recovering from the polar vortex of last week. Here, it’s suddenly up to no-jacket weather (though another polar front is on the way). It’s not too early for some of our hardier plants to start blooming away, and I found some really pretty ones in Galveston, as I was doing my best to identify beach plants without flowers.

Some of the shades of purple in this spiderwort species.

My absolute favorite were these hairyflower spiderworts (Tradescantia hirsutiflora). First, they came in so many lovely colors, ranging from the purplest purple to almost pink. It was a striking look.

These are the pink ones. Just look at those hairy little buds!

Second, I discovered on iNaturalist that the hirsutiflora (hairy flower) version of spiderwort existed! I’d originally identified it as the more common T. ohiensis, but I’d obviously not looked close enough. Daniel, who corrected my observation, pointed out the hairy buds on the flowers, which you can plainly see here. Regular ole spiderwort has smooth buds. Now I’ll look at every one I see!

I bloomed just for you, Suna, though you should recognize me by my leaves.

I’d read about what kinds of flowers I’d likely see, so I was happy to find one beach evening-primrose blooming, so I was sure that one was right.

This looks just like purslane that I’ve grown as a decorative plant.

The purslane was not blooming, but I recognized its stems. See, I’m not horrible at plant ID, just not great.

Searocket! Boom!

Other plants didn’t have flowers, but I really wanted to know what grows on the beach. I found American searocket (cool name), silver beachweed, and scorpion’s tail. If nothing else, they have great names!

Ya know, it does look like a goat’s foot. I alsol ike the pattern made by light rain.

The best name is one of the most common dune plant, the Goat’s foot convolvulus. That’s the thing that floats around and lands randomly, taking hold in the sand and helping with erosion. The beach croton also does that (I am not going to put in every darned photo I took, though). You are spared.

Dune sunflower

Along the seawall were a lot of wildflowers, but I am guessing someone planted them. I’ll share photos just because I think they are pretty. And hardy, growing in such a salty Gulf Coast environment. The dune sunflowers, though, I am guessing are native, thanks to their name.

And in the marsh

A Mexican sabal palm. Next to it is a tree I didn’t figure out.

I’m sure it comes as no surprise that there were different plants on the other side of the island, where the water is more brackish. The trees were mainly sabal palms, which always make me happy to see, especially when they aren’t artificially trimmed.

The little mushrooms look like shells.

I didn’t ID any of the marsh plants (other than cattails), because I was so busy looking at birds, but these tiny mushrooms did distract me. Aren’t they lovely? They are apparently splitgill mushrooms, but I’d never seen any this small. They look like shells.

Okay, I’m finished documenting my naturalist fun on Galveston Island. I hope you enjoyed my explorations along with me.


Author: Sue Ann (Suna) Kendall

The person behind The Hermits' Rest blog and many others. I'm a certified Texas Master Naturalist and love the nature of Milam County. I manage technical writers in Austin, help with Hearts Homes and Hands, a personal assistance service, in Cameron, and serve on three nonprofit boards. You may know me from La Leche League, knitting, iNaturalist, or Facebook. I'm interested in ALL of you!

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