Plants of the Western Slope April 20, 2016

By Evelyn Horn

Plants of the Western Slope April 20, 2016 | Evelyn Horn, Plants of the Western Slope,

Purple mustard seedpods.

Purple Mustard

It's that time again! Purple mustard is everywhere! I am tired of writing about weeds, but this one is too abundant to ignore. Our eastern "field" area is now purple! Pretty enough for now, but I know what the future holds! When the flowers fall, the seedpods are well-developed (see the second photo).

A few years ago our poor dog tried to chase a squirrel through such an area. Her feet became entangled and down she went -- I know that it hurt!

This alien Asian weed is aggressive. The curved seedpods are about one and half inches long and they are tough!

The basal leaves form a green rosette, but the stem leaves are narrow. It looks innocent enough, until you pick one up and smell it: a musky, dirty odor (think ugly). The pretty purple flowers are less than a half-inch wide. There are four purple petals, and four green sepals, and if you look at the blossom sideways, you'll see that the flower's tube is longer than the blossom is wide. Soon a narrow seedpod develops (a "silique" in botanese). The pod will break apart between the tiny seeds inside, hence the botanical label of Chorispora tenella with chori = separated and spora = seed. The term tenella means slender.

And again, I thank Al Schneider for the use of his excellent photos!

Crane watch: We usually get 10,000 to 15,000. Total for this season = 11,980.