While visiting the lagoon, I was stopped in my tracks by these pretty flowers, and had to learn more about this striking plant.
Yerba Mansa, also known as Lizard Tail, is a perennial native to southwestern US. It prefers wet locations, especially alkaline or saline marshy places below 2000 metres.
The leaves and stems are covered in soft hairs. On the upper side of the leaves, the hairs follow the veins; on the underside they cover the whole surface.
What appears to be a single bloom is actually a dense cluster of individual small flowers borne in a conical inflorescence with five to ten large white bracts beneath it. The conical structure develops into a single, tough fruit with tiny, pepper-like seeds.
The root can be consumed raw or cooked; it has a peppery flavour. Pulverized seeds can be used to make bread or added into other dishes. The root and rhizome have been used to treat the common cold, influenza, pain, wounds, burns, gastrointestinal upsets and many other conditions, but, according to WebMD, there is no good scientific evidence to support these uses.
Continuous line drawing with sailor fude fountain pen.
coffee with Georgia
We met to walk, but it was drizzling so we decided to get coffee instead. The last time I was in this building in Playa del Rey (c. 2001), it was a night club. It has more charm now.
I only had a few minutes to sketch before work, and in the time it took me to draw a Foothill Penstemon, the Merlin app identified 19 nearby bird songs. I can recognise seven (maybe eight) of those birds by ear; I plan to keep studying their calls, and one day know them all.
I should try to get bladderpod established on our block. It’s apparently easy to grow from seed (and readily self-seeds). It‘s drought-tolerant and fire-retardant, and it attracts native bees, butterflies and hummingbirds. And deer don’t eat it.
The only downside is that it hosts the harlequin beetle which can be a serious pest on brassicas, which I do like to grow in the veggie garden. I wonder how far apart that two kinds of plants would have to be, for this to not be a problem? Hmm, this warrants some further research.
Anaxyrus boreas halophilus
A new-to-me waterbird at Legacy Park! I was delighted by the bright blue bill on this male ruddy duck.
I’ve read that ruddy ducks are very aggressive toward each other and toward other species, but this fellow was behaving peacefully. Apparently they will even chase rabbits feeding on the shore. During courtship, males beat their bill against their neck hard enough to create a swirl of bubbles in the water. Pretty intense!
The genus name Oxyura is derived from Ancient Greek oxus meaning “sharp”, and oura meaning “tail”. Ruddy ducks were imported into the UK in 1948 and have since spread to Europe, where they are considered invasive.
thoughts at the end of may