Excerpts from Jim Conrad's
Naturalist Newsletter

from the September 16, 2012 Newsletter issued from the valley of the Dry Frio River in northern Uvalde County, southwestern Texas, on the southern border of the Edwards Plateau, USA

On a hill's lower slope so little soil covered the crumbly limestone that hardly anything but a few wiry, drought-stunted grasses survived. However, right in the middle of this parched glade stood an ankle-high little wildflower bearing more bright, pink blossoms than such a little plant should have, and it looked surprisingly fresh and healthy, as seen below:

Mountain Pink, ZELTNERA BEYRICHII, flowering plant

How could so few short, narrow leaves photosynthesize enough carbohydrate to produce so many flowers? It can only be that the plant is exquisitely adapted to this harsh environment, like a camel in the desert.

You can see a close-up of a single flower with its five yellow anthers spiraling in an unusual manner, looking like tiny hands, and a large, pale stigma-head held apart from the anthers on a bent style -- better to prevent self pollination -- below:

Mountain Pink, ZELTNERA BEYRICHII, flower close-up

This little wildflower is ZELTNERA BEYRICHII, pretty enough to have acquired several common names, among them Mountain Pink, Meadow Pink, Beyrich's Centaury, Rock Centaury, Catchfly and Quinineweed. It's endemic just to parts of Oklahoma and Texas where it thrives in sandy, gravelly, limestone-based or granitic habitats on hillsides and in prairies, pastures and savannahs. It belongs to the Gentian Family, the Gentianaceae. It's noted to blossom from May to July, so maybe ours are reacting to an unexpected downpour experienced here a few weeks back. In older books it's listed as Centaurium beyrichii.