Thursday, October 9, 2014

Lantana Arrives Amid the Redbuds

Texas Lantana


Lantana urticoides blooms where we least expected. 
Mom's house on York Street was anchored in Texas Lantana along front walk. This bed beside the postage-stamp sized porch was vigorous, to say the least, and I have trimmed it back into a sembelence of submission more than a few summers.

I took cuttings from this mass of Calico bush from time to time. There's a small patch of it, as I recall, on Pennsylvania Road where we lived before we went off touring the USA in a freightliner.

Lantana urticoides is a tough little plant that can take the heat and endure through dry spells. "Urticoides" comes from the leaves which resemble the Urtica nettles clan. Originally she was called horrida for her pungent odor, particularly when the shrub is perturbed. They say Lantana's smell can take out a sensitive sort of being, but butterflies and bees can't get enough of her yellow-orange-red flowers.

Like any true Texas native, Lantana thrives on abuse and neglect, and she can be down right aggressive. Some even say she's invasive.

I took a few cuttings when Mom died to transplant at our current location, here in Brook Village. For whatever reasons, the cuttings didn't make. I thought about going over to the York Street house to try again, but new folks are in there now. Still, bringing Lantana, even if not Mom's Lantana, into our yard remained on my mental to-do list.

So a couple days ago, I'm doing the morning routine in the back john when a flash of golden orange nicks the corner of my eye. I look out the window, and there in the far corner of the lot just under the Redbuds is a solitary Lantana head where no Lantana had been seen before!

Going on four years, now, Annie and I have staked our claim on this plot, and that plant never showed itself until now, going into October and under a blood moon.

Thank you, Lord!

Some old timers call Lantana urticoides "bacon 'n eggs" for the yellow-orange-red range of her flower petals, according to the folks at the Native Plant Society of Texas. Her agrobusiness-bred cousin they dubbed "ham 'n eggs", Lantana camara, whose colors are pink and yellow. So if you are looking for the true Texas native, pass on the pink and go with the red!

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