Tuesday, June 21, 2016

Summer by the River

We enjoy walking the trails beside the Rio Grande throughout the year.  The real highlight though comes in mid-June with the blooming of the Yerba Mansa.

There is a very dense stand of Yerba Mansa close to the river about a mile south of the National Hispanic Cultural Center.  The densely packed plants extend about a quarter mile along the river-side trail in boggy ground.  The conical upper portion of the plant head develops many small seeds; it is very light and buoyant when dry and likely helps the plant to spread downstream when the river floods.

The Wolfberry likes the same environment as the Yerba Mansa and the sweet red berries reach maturity at the same time the Yerba Mansa flowers.  There are many varieties of wolfberry world-wide.  At least two varieties appear to be native to the Rio Grande Valley, Pale Wolfberry and Torrey's Wolfberry. I think the berries are delicious, but Margaret does not like them.  That may reflect a difference in responses to the alkaloids present in the plant.