Locoweed, the common name of a number of different plants that poison sheep, cattle, and horses on the Great Plains. Some, such as the poison larkspur, are poisonous in themselves. Others are poisonous because they concentrate selenium that exists in the soil. Among these are the milk vetch and white locoweed. The poison affects the nervous system, causing an acute or chronic disorder called loco disease.

Loco is the Spanish word for “mad” or “insane.” The symptoms of loco disease include staggering, falling, defective vision, nausea, constipation, and loss of appetite. Affected animals may suddenly jump for no reason, or run into obstacles. The acute form may end fatally in three days. Animals suffering from the chronic form of the disease may waste away for weeks or even for months.

I think I first heard of locoweed from the old TV series Rawhide. Trail boss Gil Favor and ramrod Rowdy Yates (played by Clint Eastwood long before “Make my day” fame) encountered all kinds of pitfalls and challenges driving the herd from San Antonio TX to Sedalia MO.

Little did I know how common locoweed was and I could have inspected the mysterious plant right in my backyard of Odessa TX. I was probably more interested in having a “cool” name like Rowdy, Sheb or Wishbone instead of plain ole Jimmy.

Be aware of all that you have in your backyard. † en theos ††† jim

Photographs from Southwest Texas #502- Four yellow blooms in different stages of the same plant.

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I have been observing this specimen for several weeks. Yesterday, in the rain, I found myself drawn to the notice that it had four stages of growth, going from bud to bloom to seed, all on this one plant. This plant seems an out of place, as there is just this one plant that I have found in our walking field. I search in all my guides until the magnitude of yellow blooms all began to look the same.

If anyone can identify it for me, would love to hear what it might be.

Keep looking for the unordinary amongst the ordinary! ††† en theos ††† jlawrence

Photos on the journey #492 – It is a small world!

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These desert thistles are just so hard to not stop and explore. They are most often filled with all kinds of bees, wasps, flies or beetles. I find them interestingly attractive at all stages of their blooming cycle

Cirsium neomexicanum is a species of thistle known by the common names New Mexico thistlepowderpuff thistlelavender thistle,foss thistle and desert thistle. This plant is native to the southwestern United States, particularly the Mojave Desert. It is a tall plant, routinely exceeding 2 meters in height. It erects a stem which may have webby fibers and long, stiff spines. The sparse leaves are greenish-gray, hairy, and very spiny. Atop the mainly naked stems are inflorescences of one or more large flower heads with rounded bases and phyllaries covered in long, curving spines. The largest heads may be up to 5 centimeters in diameter. They are packed with white or lavender disc florets. The fruit is a flat brown achene with a long pappus which may reach 2 centimeters long. Unlike many other thistles, this species tends not to be a troublesome noxious weed.

Peaceout ††† en theos ††† jlawrence

Photos on the journey #485 -young Buffalo gourd bloom


I found this early Buffalo gourd plant blooming in our walking field. The blooms have an interesting look. The flowers will turn to fruit in the form of a baseball sized gourd that resembles a small watermelon. I couldn’t believe that people actually eat these things. The plant has an odor that very much smells like, well it smells much like when you haven’t put on deodorant for a few days.

Cucurbita foetidissima, has numerous common names, including: buffalo gourd calabazilla chilicotecoyote gourdfetid gourdfetid wild pumpkinMissouri gourd,  prairie gourd,  stinking gourdwild gourd,  and wild pumpkin. The plant is an axerophytic tuberous plant found in the Southwestern United States and Northwestern Mexico. The type specimen was collected from Mexico by Humboldt and Bonpland sometime before 1817.

The feral perennial Buffalo gourd has evolved in the semiarid regions and is well adapted to desert environments. It has abundant yields of oil, protein and carbohydrates. The carbohydrates who are formed in the tap root have led to the idea to grow the plant for biofuel.

The fruit is consumed by humans and animals. When the fruit is mature a stage marked by increasing desiccation of vine, leaves, fruit-stem, and fruit itself it begins its final gourd stage.

PEACEOUT ††† en theos ††† jlawrence

Photo of Da day @ Da Pine #279


Tahoka Daisy/Prairie Aster (Machaeranthera tanacetifolia)

By expert estimates, there are over 20,000 species of flowering plants in North America, belonging to about 300 different families. Those that grow in the wild or on their own, without cultivation, are called wildflowers. Wildflowers indigenous to the continent are called “natives”. Others, which may be quite common, but not indigenous, have been introduced from some other part of the world and are referred to as “naturalized.” Both types share one common distinction: They are equipped to grow on their own in nature.

Ah, what lies within a word ? Weeds, we think of as being offensive, invasive. Where as a wildflower can turn a head and a heart. One we savory, one we eradicate.

Change from a weed and become a wildflower on your journey††††nada te turbe††††jim

Photo of Da day @ Da Pine #255

I was working on the close up when my muse (aka wife-Susan) whispered something about how she loved how the thistle like leaves and buds seem to serve to protect the delicacy of the bloom.

One does not ignore their muse, so I re-framed to make an image reflecting the toughness that surrounded this Prickly Poppy.

These are blooming in great proliferation right now. I love to look over a field of them at night. They reflect the moonlight with a mystical glow and  appear as if some cowboy- golfer had been using the desert as a driving range.

This plant is native to Mexico, Southern and Western United States, and has been naturalized in Brazil, Hindustan, Africa, and other subtropical and tropical places. The seeds of this plant yield a large quantity of a pale-yellow latex ooze, which has repeatedly been considered a narcotic throughout history. It has been used as a smudging herb the the Natives of the western US and parts of Mexico.
The herb and flowers are smoked by natives to produce both a euphoric and a mild sedating effect. The whole plant has often been extracted to produce a substitute for a well-known herb, giving it much stronger sedative and analgesic properties, but the latex from this plant is the most potent part, but the most difficult to find as well.  Often, just like the Mexican Dream Herb, the dried herbage is often rolled into a cigarette, while a tea is enjoyed to strengthen the effects.  It has also been mixed with Tagetes lucida, another herb that is only recently regaining attention as an important psychoactive in the spiritual explorer’s arsenal of tools, with many positive and interesting reports.

Argemone mexicana is an annual herb with bright yellow sap; leaves alternate, simple, with spine-tipped lobes and whitish wax that rubs off; flowers with 4-6, bright yellow petals (cream-yellow or white forms) and many stamens.

Things are not always as they appear on your journey†††nada te turbe†††jim