Excerpts from Jim Conrad's
Naturalist Newsletter

from the July 20, 2007 Newsletter issued from Sierra Gorda Biosphere Reserve, QUERÉTARO, MÉXICO

Last weekend's most spectacular wildflower grew atop a high ridge in a pasture at the edge of a woods. Known as Hierba del Burro (Burro Herb) and Sangre de Toro (Bull Blood), it was SPIGELIA LONGIFLORA, to be seen below:


What's so spectacular about this plant is its large cluster of brightly red flowers, which are nearly three inches long, crowning the soft-green, big-leafed plant. Southeast North America's Indian Pink is in the same genus and looks a lot like the above, except that Indian Pink's red flowers are yellow inside.

I found only one small community of the plants and this cluster grew inside a group of ancient, collapsed, indigenous ruins. Often I've noted unusual plants existing only around ancient ruins, and I believe that this confirms that changes we humans make in soil structure and chemistry can affect local ecology for centuries and millennia to come.