February 2020

Algerita, Algerito, or Currant of Texas

This is Algerita, Algerito, or Currant of Texas by its several common names. This densely leafy evergreen shrub usually flowers in February through April. The very attractive bundles of yellow flowers seen now will produce red berries as fruit later on in the spring. The wood and roots were used as a source of yellow dye by the early settlers. #DoctorBot #LakeKirby

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Local students benefit Lake Kirby!

Local students benefit Lake Kirby! Junior High students from Wylie ISD, Carson Wells, Karishma Tweety, & Tanner Jones present, on Behalf of the Destination Imagination team, The Seven Leaf Clovers, a donation of $835 to Rick Hammer (DoctorBot), representing the West Texas Science Center and Lake Kirby Nature Park. The donation is for purchasing and planting trees in the Boardwalk area. Very impressive group of students! Thanks for helping make Kirby and Abilene a little greener! #DoctorBot #LakeKirby

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Plains Yellow Daisy or Four-Nerve Daisy

Kirby Wildflowers: This is Plains Yellow Daisy or Four-Nerve Daisy. A perennial and member of the sunflower family. What looks like a "flower" is really a collection of smaller flowers or florets; so maybe you're seeing about 50-75 tiny flowers in the first image, each with a complete set of male and female parts. Seems strange but that's the way flowers work in the sunflower family. This photo was from late February of last year. I am on the lookout for this to start blooming very soon now at Kirby! #DoctorBot #LakeKirby

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Meet Velcro Plant

Meet Velcro Plant. That’s what us botanist types call it. The scientific name is Galium aparine, a member of the coffee family. The “Galium” part is generally translated to mean “catch, cling, or hold onto.” You can see the little hooked hairs on the stems. A stem will stick to your clothing just like velcro. I included the drawing to show what the entire plant looks like. The dried and roasted fruits are considered to be the best coffee substitute in North America. #DoctorBot #LakeKirby

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Prairie Verbena

Here’s a little color to brighten your winter day! I love the shape and purplish color of Prairie Verbena flowers. I found these verbenas, or sometimes called vervains, yesterday afternoon near the park entrance just off Maple street. The purple corollas are what caught my eye, just like I was an insect pollinator. I feel honored to bee in such company! #DoctorBot #LakeKirby

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American Elms Follow Up

This is a follow up to a recent post about the American Elms being in full spring flowering mode. There are many elms along the boardwalk but there are quite a few Hackberry trees as well. The hackberries are not in flower yet and maybe not for another two or three weeks. So, how can you tell these species apart? It’s actually pretty easy if you know what to look for. It all comes down to the bark. Hackberries have trunks with smooth bark but with warty ridges on the surface. Elms have trunks with flattened ridges and deep fissures. Can you match each tree with its correct bark in the images? I hope that you have a chance soon to go out on the boardwalk and look for elms and hackberry trees! #DoctorBot #LakeKirby

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American Elms

The larger American Elms along the boardwalk are in flower! This is usually a late-Feb, early-Mar event, so right on schedule. As of this morning, you have to look up high to the branches on the tops of the tallest trees to see the emerging flowers. The lower eye-level branches, which are visible as you walk along the boardwalk, are not ready to open yet. I will be keeping a close eye on them. So, do you think that Spring has begun? The Elm trees must know something! #DoctorBot #LakeKirby

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Valentine's Day 2020

I wish that I could show you a truly "romantic" plant for Valentine's Day. Maybe I can get close! You probably recognize the plant in the images as Mistletoe, which IS considered by some to be a romantic plant during the Christmas season. Mistletoe is a native Texas plant that does have an unromantic side as a parasite. It's a parasitic plant because it takes food and water from its host plant. It's more properly referred to as a hemiparasitic plant because it can still make its own food via photosynthesis (hint: that's why it is green in color). The white mistletoe berries are poisonous to humans, pets, ans livestock, but livestock and deer relish the thick (juicy) mistletoe leaves. Several species of songbirds, including mockingbirds and cedar waxwings, can eat the berries. So, even though this species has its unromantic side, it does play a positive role in nature, which lets me end this post on a "romantic" thought. Happy Valentine's Day! #DoctorBot #LakeKirby #ValentinesDay

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Split Gill Mushroomn


Kirby Fungi: This is a Split Gill Mushroom found along the cement path leading down to the lake. What you are seeing is the reproductive structure of the fungus. This fungus and others are always at Kirby year round and mostly out of sight. The white mushrooms on the surface of the trunk release spores into the air (and into our nasal passages as "mold spores") to start a new generation of fungus on some nearby dead wood. The main "business end" of the fungus is buried inside the dead tree trunk where it secretes digestive enzymes to breakdown and decompose the wood and help recycle the dead tree's nutrients back into the soil. Circle of life in action at Kirby! By the way, this species is NOT edible. #DoctorBot #LakeKirby

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Hiking a snowy Kirby North Trail

Hiking a snowy Kirby North Trail yesterday! I think that the horizontal prickly pear cactus pad nicely shows how much snow fell. I am appreciative of my friend Kathy for sharing these images so that all of us can experience a rare winter event at Kirby! #DoctorBot #LakeKirby @ Lake Kirby Nature Park

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Destination Imagination Team from Wylie

This is the Destination Imagination Team from Wylie the Intermediate schools. The team wanted to organize and sponsor a conservation oriented project and chose to hold a walk-a-thon to benefit Lake Kirby Nature Park. The walk-a-thon was held last Saturday and the proceeds will be donated to Kirby to purchase native trees to plant in the Nature Play area. I am proud to say that the team raised almost $500 to benefit the park! I was there for the event and was very impressed with this group of young people. Kirby and the West Texas Science Center is very appreciative of your donation! #DoctorBot #LakeKirby

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Happy Goundhog Day 2020!

Happy Goundhog Day 2020! Okay, so our Kirby Texas Fox Squirrel pictured here along the Kirby Boardwalk last September is no Punxsutawney Phil, so he (or she?) may not be able to predict if we'll have an early spring or six more weeks of winter. Around Abilene and west Texas your prediction may depend upon which day you ask! By the way, Punxsutawney Phil did not see his shadow this morning at his home in Pennsylvania, which means we will see an early spring! Actually, Groundhog Day is almost the half way point between the winter solstice (last Dec. 21st) and the upcoming spring equinox on March 19th so we're half way to spring! #DoctorBot #LakeKirby

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