Monday, November 30, 2009

Campsis radicans


Trumpet creeper is a rampant, fast-growing vine, native to the Southeast but commonly cultivated eslewhere for its big, showy flowers. Like other members of its family (such as the catalpa tree), the flowers are tube or trumpet shaped. Trumpet creeper can easily scale the height of even the tallest trees and is commonly seen covering telephone poles. The leaves are compound and up to 1 foot in length, and the vine produces large, banana-shaped seed pods in late summer. The vines are perennial and become woody over time, putting them with other lianas such as Berchemia scandens and poison ivy.

Carya cordiformis


I think it's neat to find this tree growing in Friendswood. It's a type of hickory called bitternut hickory. It ranges all the way from southern Canada to East Texas and is typically found in bottomlands and even swamps (it's also called swamp hickory). The nuts of this tree are, as the name implies, bitter and mostly inedible. They look like smallish (around 1 inch in diameter), round pecans with a thin, four-segmented husk. The pecan is actually also a hickory (Carya illinoiensis). The leaves of the bitternut hickory I found were around a foot in length. One distinctive characteristic is the bright orange buds. The specimen I found had been hacked down but I'm hoping to find a nice mature one somewhere as they are supposed to be one of the tallest hickories growing up to 100ft tall.

Saturday, November 28, 2009

Forestiera ligustrina


I have to admit, I am uncertain of the species identification of this plant. Forestiera pubescens is the species I'm most familiar with and the plants that grow around here look an awful lot like the the F. pubescens common to Central Texas. However, based on the species distribution and local habitat, this plant is more likely F. ligustrina (aka Swamp privet) which is native to the Southeast.

In any case, this is an understory shrub in the same family as the very invastive Ligustrum. The stems tend to grow at right angles to each other, giving other species of Forestiera the common name "elbow bush". The flowers are yellow and insignificant. I don't know how large this shrub grows as there is not much info on the web. The leaves are about 1 inch in length with a dentate edge. I was lucky enough to find one in fruit.