Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Yellow-eyed Grass and Three-hour Flowers

   I'm continuing to explore (by popular demand) the riparian habitat along our long, crooked river.   While in this lovely setting I have to ask myself, "What secrets are hidden by these hills?"
Of course, I also have to ask, "What lies hidden at my feet?"  Which means I didn't get very far exploring up or down the shoreline. I got hung up by the Yellow-eyed Grass.  
   I would call it a rare experience to see these tiny yellow flowers blooming among the sedges on the shore of the Susquehanna River.  One reason is, Yellow-eyed Grass is inconspicuous.  These diminutive flowers blend in well among the rushes, sedges, and nut-grasses.
   What caught my eye when I spotted this patch of Yellow-eyed Grass was the unusual, three-petaled flowers.  What's eye-catching is how the flower protrudes from the oval inflorescence which is perched on top of a long, slender stem.
   The name, Yellow-eyed Grass, can be misleading... it isn't truly a grass, even though its leaves resemble its namesake.  I believe the plant growing here is the Bog Yellow-eyed Grass - Xyris difformis.
   One remarkable thing about Yellow-eyed Grass is the flowers are open only very briefly. The flowers are here today and gone tomorrow. The flower in the picture below will soon close and fade like the flowers from other days... still hanging there, wilted, on the inflorescence.
 I was impressed with the brevity of their anthesis when I observed that the Yellow-eyed Grass flowers open late in the morning and a few short hours later they close.
The flower of the day simply fades away and another one will bloom the next day.  Here is a photo of a Yellow-eyed Grass flower.
Compare the picture above with the one below of an older inflorescence... notice its faded flowers from previous days.
Interestingly, a sheath envelops the flower bud as it emerges in the morning.  In the photo below I believe I  can see the shed sheath (clear and shiny) from this flower's morning opening.
The flowers do not produce nectar, but are pollinated by pollen-seeking bees and flower flies.  A late-summer pollen shop... open daily, but briefly  There is a flower fly visiting the tallest flower in the photo below.
Truly, these short-lived flowers are a rare beauty to behold.
  I like to think of them as "three-hour flowers".
   Well, the Yellow-eyed Grass flowers are closing up pollen shop for the day, so perhaps I'll move along and see what else lies hidden in plain sight along the Susquehanna's shoreline. What other discoveries are awaiting the riparian rambler?

   In light of these three-hour flowers, here's a bit of wisdom to ponder while down by the river.
As for man, his days are as grass: as the flower of the field, so he flourisheth. For the wind passeth over it, and it is gone; and the place thereof shall know it no more.  But the mercy of the Lord is from everlasting to everlasting... Psalm. 103:15-17a

1 comment:

  1. Dana, my shoes got wet but I've brought extra socks, so I can keep walking for a couple more hours ...

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