I wasn’t expecting this lovely pink streaked, bell shaped flower to have so bland a name as dogbane (Apocynum androsaemifolium).
It seems the plant derives its name from its shady reputation rather than the delicate bell shaped flowers that hang from its stems. “Apocynum” is the Greek word for “away dog”. Back in the 1700’s extracts of this plant were said to have been used as poisons to rid the countryside of wild dogs. In recent times, however, though the plant is still very toxic to both animals and humans, derivatives from this plant family have saved lives through use in many pharmaceuticals.
I spotted this dogbane along the roadside one afternoon and walked back the next morning to get a closer look. My walk turned out to be more of a challenge than I expected. After a night of rain, the clay road had turned to mud and readily stuck to the bottom of my shoes like ever increasing mounds of concrete. I suddenly understood why adobe is so widely used as a building material in the west.
As I stopped to shake loose some of the mud, I heard the familiar chirp of a humming bird as she flew past my head. It so happened that I had stopped very near her favorite perch. So when I returned from photographing the flower, she was still there.
Hummingbirds are known for ‘hawking’, that is, hunting from a perch, flying out to grab an insect, then returning to a perch to repeat this again and again. And this is exactly what she was doing. In fact, as I stood photographing her, I became keenly aware of a different kind of buzzing around my head--I was attracting some of the mosquitoes that she was busily hunting. Best guess ID: female broad-tailed hummingbird. All hummingbird females lack the brilliant markings of the males, but their subtleness is also what makes them so beautiful. The rufous tint in her feathers along side that irridescent green is just exquisite. Also notice the delicate spotting under her throat.
For the Love of It...
...the sage sees heaven reflected in Nature as in a mirror, and he pursues this Art, not for the sake of gold or silver, but for the love of the knowledge which it reveals.