Tuesday, June 08, 2021

Yerba Mansa

 Summer along the middle Rio Grande is announced by the blooming of the Yerba Mansa.  This year the season started a little early, probably thanks to warm temperatures and some welcome rains.

The dense patches of fleshy green leaves blanket acres of the boggy cottonwood forest floor.  The plants do well in the deep shade, but the blossoms are thickest where a bit of direct sunlight reaches them during the day.

The seed forming flowers are actually the small petals clustered on the central cone structure.  The likely function of the showy white bracts is to attract sphinx moths and other night-roaming pollinators.  In addition to the production of copious amounts of seeds, the plants also spread with dense mats of runners near the soil surface.

While the towering cottonwoods are dominant, they share the space with many other shade-tolerant species including Mulberries, Russian Olive, and Wolf Berries.

These first pictures of the year were made with my Nikon F on TMAX 400 film.  I look forward to visiting the Yerba Mansa several more times as they mature during the summer with other cameras.  I am  also pleased to see that the small Yerba Mansa which I planted a couple years ago beside the house look like they might finally produce a few flowers.

(See: The Yerba Mansa Project)

Ignore this pic.  It is for another post elsewhere.


Jim Grey said...

Nice - I've never heard of or seen this plant before. Thanks for sharing it!

Mike said...

Yerba Mansa seems to be pretty wide-spread along Southwest water courses. It has numerous medicinal applications. I first came across the plant beside the river when we lived north of Las Cruces. Every year since then I have looked forward to the early summer blooming.

JR Smith said...

How are you liking the F now that you've spent some time with it? It is the only classic Nikon I have not tried. I had one of the rangefinders and of course F2, F3, F4, FE, FE2, FM2n, FA...but never the original F.

Mike said...

The F inspires a lot of confidence. I generally prefer meterless cameras and the solidity and reliability of the F is unmatched in my own collection. I also like all the Nikon lenses, with my favorite being the old 2.5/105. I also have the F2, FE, EM and FG-20. They all have their charm, but none really seems better to me than the original.