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The Amazing and Unexpected Bluebell!

Prairie Notes:
June 21, 2008

Of all the amazing wildflower species at Tandy Hills Natural Area, themost unexpected may well be, Texas Bluebells, Eustoma grandiflorum, (or Eustoma exaltatum ssp. russellianum, according to BRIT and Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center.)

Unexpected, not only for their large, colorful blooms, but because they grow in very shallow soils and dry conditions. It is not unusual to find these cheerful flowers blooming madly in full sun in middle of a drought.

Add a little rain, like we had this week and, Voila!, they shout to the sky. See attached photos taken yesterday afternoon on an east-facing slope (Bluebell Hill) on the northern end of the park. They are also widespread on the private property east and west of THNA.

IMPORTANT: Do not pick ANY of these wildflowers. They are highly toxic to humans and kill within seconds!

Just kidding.

Seriously, picking them will prevent reseeding and reduce their numbers for next year. Admire, lust after and photograph, but please, Do Not Pick the Bluebells.

Here's what the LBJ Wildflower Center writes about Bluebells: Read more...

SoapBox Alert #1:
The hill where these flowers are located, like all of THNA, is being overrun by invasive, woody plants such as, Texas Ash. Unless the City of Fort Worth Parks Dept. implements the Master Plan, and soon, Bluebell Hill will turn into Ash Avenue in just a few more years. Friends of THNA needs your continued support in nudging the city to, finally, begin caring for this park. I refer to THNA as the most valuable piece of real estate in the city. Why? Not only is Fort Worth prairie the most endangered ecosystem in the state of Texas, but THNA is easily the most botanically diverse piece of land we have. It deserves better.

SoapBox Alert #2:
Chesapeake Energy has leased the mineral rights to the 30+ acres of native, Fort Worth prairie west of Ben Street and contiguous with THNA. (This is separate from the 50+ acres they bought on the east side.) They will most likely begin constructing a road through the prairie and clearing a 5 acre pad site (or larger) on the property in the next few weeks. They are also planning to install a pipeline that will run through the park and the nearby neighborhood. The pipeline will carry ODORLESS, natural gas.

I have walked this property many times and find it to be extraordinarily beautiful and exactly as botanically diverse as THNA. Despite some evidence of human impact, parts of it are even more striking than THNA. It is even home to a family of fox and other wildlife. By all rights, it should be part of THNA. But, alas, it is not. This industrial activity will ruin it for future generations and for those of us who appreciate how rare and special it is today. It will also impact THNA in a variety of ways. It breaks my heart to see this happen.

I urge you to contact Julie Wilson at Chesapeake and tell her why drilling at this location should not happen:

While you're at it, contact Mayor Moncrief and remind him that, by allowing urban gas drilling, we will all lose an irreplaceable part of our natural heritage:

--Come to the meadow on Summer Solstice weekend and "hear" the bluebells ringing while you still can. They don't last long. The therapy is always pro bono at Tandy Hills.

All photos by Don Young, 6/20/2008
All photos by Don Young, 6/20/2008

Grand & Exalted!
Grand & Exalted!

A natural bouquet of Sneezeweed & Bluebells
A natural bouquet of Sneezeweed & Bluebells

Uncommon, white pigmented Bluebells

6 o'clock shadow at THNA