Tuesday, July 1, 2014

Flora of Middle Tennessee

The heavens shew forth the glory of God, and the firmament declareth the work of his hands. -Psalm 19:1

God also said: Let the waters that are under the heaven, be gathered together into one place: and let the dry land appear. And it was so done. And God called the dry land, Earth; and the gathering together of the waters, he called Seas. And God saw that it was good. And he said: Let the earth bring forth the green herb, and such as may seed, and the fruit tree yielding fruit after its kind, which may have seed in itself upon the earth. And it was so done. And the earth brought forth the green herb, and such as yieldeth seed according to its kind, and the tree that beareth fruit having seed each one according to its kind. And God saw that it was good. And the evening and the morning were the third day. -Genesis 1:9-13

Since I've been traversing the nether-reaches of the entire property to tether the cows to graze this year, I have noticed a TON of really cool plants that I've never really seen before. Some are recurring nightmares features, and some are brand-new to me. It's amazing to see the work of creation all around, and to notice some absolutely stunning works of God's art.

I do often take the time to stop in the stillness of the morning (post-milking, usually) to appreciate the season's splendor. I am richly rewarded with the smalls, the sights, and the experiences of the majesty of God. The perfection amid the imperfection makes St. Therese's "Little Way" come alive right here on the homestead.

I do hope to make this a series, as new species show themselves and I catalog them. I'll lead off Part 1 the series with this gem:

These stunningly beautiful flowers are only open before 5:30 AM.

The rest of the plant is also very cool. This one is growing right behind my shed/barn complex. The chickens were in there with it, and didn't eat a single leaf. It grew quite a bit and looks awesome, so I've been leaving it to just see what happens. Here's a few more shots:

The flower about 2 weeks ago.

The flowers are closed now, but you can see the very spiky (and painful) "fruit" along the stems.

The stems are thick but not very woody. It seems more like a tubular structure that is
fairly fragile. But ouch, those fruits hurt.

The whole dang plant. One flower is open, and at least five are closed tight.
This one ^ is, I think, my favorite (wild) plant we have. It just looks really cool. The stem is about an inch thick, and it's 3 or so feet tall now. I'm letting it go to see what happens - hopefully it doesn't take over like the Bermuda grass.  :P

UPDATE (7/2): I am removing the plant today. It is quite toxic, apparently, and is called Datura stramonium, known by the common names Jimson weed and Devil's snare. (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Datura_stramonium)

The next one is a very cool flower growing in my front yard on the edge of the hay field by a telephone pole. It may have been planted intentionally there. I don't know. I don't know where any of these came from, really.

A single purple flower overlooking the hay field.

Different angle. Note the power lines in the upper right corner.

Still more purple flowers. You can see the tips of the "leaves" in this one.

.....and taking a step back.....
Flowers were in full bloom about a month ago. That's when I took most of the flower shots, including the one above, and this one below.

This bush of pink flowers seems to have been planted right by the north side of the house.
The purple flowers from the previous shots are in the upper right background.

A different angle with the shimmers form the sun included.

Pink flower close-up.
Then there are some more, er, unusual plants around the homestead. Like this wild cactus, for instance.

A leaf of wild Tennessee cactus, surrounded by native perennial grasses.

The broad side of the cactus leaf.

Backed up, the cactus is part of a larger patch. I have about 4 such patches around the property.
After a good rain, I also found this mushroom while tying out the cows.

Top view of a gigantic mushroom (7") I almost stepped on.

The side view shows a really neat ripple on the top.

Since I took this shot a month ago, i don't remember if this is the same 'shroom as above.
But either way, it's pretty cool.
We also have lots of different grasses and sedge growing about. Some are native perennial grasses, and some are transplanted/invasive. Like, for example, this big ol' patch of Johnson grass.

Brisket grazing down some Johnson grass. It takes up about a good half acre of back pasture.
Brisket in a stand of native perennial grasses.
We also have a lot of cool trees on the property. The dominant ones are ash, maple, oak, hickory, walnut, and cedar.

This large maple shades the front yard.

This tall cedar provides protection for some additional bushes below.

A smaller cedar sits alone.
Last for today is this bizarre pink-flowered plant. It stands about 3 inches tall, and only grows in shaded areas where the soil is a fraction of inch deep on top of a big rock.We have one huge patch at the very back of the land, and other smaller ones where the profile is matched.

This is the largest stand of pink rock flowers we have.
It gradually gives way to grasses as the soil deepens.

A (slightly blurry) close-up shows some extra detail.
The topsoil is about 1/4" deep here.

This shaded rock is the natural habitat of the weird pink rock flower.

That's it for now. I have dozens more pictures, which i will add over the next few weeks. I am constantly amazed at the marvels of God and His creation. 

Thou waterest the hills from thy upper rooms: the earth shall be filled with the fruit of thy works: Bringing forth grass for cattle, and herb for the service of men. That thou mayst bring bread out of the earth: and that wine may cheer the heart of man. That he may make the face cheerful with oil: and that bread may strengthen man's heart. The trees of the field shall be filled, and the cedars of Libanus which he hath planted: How great are thy works, O Lord? thou hast made all things in wisdom: the earth is filled with thy riches. -Psalm 104:13-16,24

May God bless our land and keep it prosperous.


If you happen to see this and know the names of any these plants, please share in the comments. Counting down from the top works ("5th picture from the top is ____"), as does calling them out by euphemism (pink rock flower is called ___"). And most importantly, if any are edible or toxic, I'd appreciate a heads-up, too. Thanks in advance.


  1. Those first flowers are Datura, and are VERY VERY toxic. Your chickens are smart. Keep your cows away from them! http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Datura

  2. Thanks, David. I will remove it today. I followed some more of the links on that page, and the specific variety is this: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Datura_stramonium