A Pleasant Walk around the Ranch

There was frost last night! It’s amazing how quickly it goes from boiling hot to frost around here. Luckily none of my plants were damaged, since I thought they’d still be ok outside. I look forward to putting them in the greenhouse, though!

I decided to take one more sweep of the ranch for the pollinator BioBlitz, just to see if I would find anything different, and I’m glad I did, because I did stumble upon a few things. I’d say the most interesting one is the buffalo gourd.

Cucurbita foetidissima (means stinky)

Here’s some info on these plants, which Lee’s dad called “smell apples.” I’m always amused by giant squash in the middle of the pasture.

Cucurbita foetidissima is a tuberous xerophytic plant found in the central and southwestern United States and northern Mexico. It has numerous common names, including: buffalo gourd, calabazilla, chilicote, coyote gourd, fetid gourd, fetid wild pumpkin, Missouri gourd, prairie gourd, stinking gourd, wild gourd, and wild pumpkin. The type specimen was collected from Mexico by Alexander von Humboldt and Aimé Bonpland sometime before 1817. In Latin, foetidissima means ill smelling.

The feral perennial buffalo gourd has evolved in the semiarid regions and is well-adapted to desert environments. It contains high amounts of protein and carbohydrates and yields abundant oil. The carbohydrates that are formed in the tap root have led to the idea of growing the plant for biofuel.

The fruit is consumed by both humans and animals. When mature, a stage marked by increasing desiccation of vine, leaves, fruit-stem, and fruit, the fruit begins its final gourd stage. (from iNaturalist/Wikipedia)

I enjoyed seeing things other than the plants, too. There was a kettle of black vultures circling around. And I identified what they were all gathered around recently on my son’s driveway/access road. It was a skunk. What a cool skeleton! And I got greeted by the current “bull in residence” in the pasture next to ours. He is really friendly and beautiful. I look forward to his babies.

It’s pretty this time of year, and the grass has greened up a little. Finding plants is hard, so I’ve resorted to looking for spring plants that are coming up already and some pretty sad drought-damaged dock. But they all count, and I’m still ranked in the 30s in the BioBlitz. Wait until tomorrow. My camera will be snapping like crazy on the field trip I’m attending in Houston.

I was happy to see all the twin calves having a good time in the pasture behind us. The cow who was hugely pregnant did indeed have twins. I’m sure she’s really glad to get them OUT of her. The little one’s a hoot. He got hungry and started bellowing for her. She came through!

It’s simply restorative to just take in all that you see around here. Then I feel good heading in for more technical writing and helping lovely people with their software dilemmas. I even enjoyed the sparrows that eat all my chicken food. And of course, my horsies!

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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