Tree Following: August Oven, 2015

It’s toasty out there!  The hot August sun beats down on me and mine, but most of my tough Texas natives stand brave against the 100 F+ temperatures this hot August. Included in that set of stalwart botanical steadies is my 2015 Tree Following choice, the beautiful Retama, Parkinsonia aculeata.  It’s still green,

…lacy and lush.

Juxtaposed with the Mountain Laurel, Retama’s fine foliage is brilliant,

…and against the Shumard Oak’s more substantial leaves,

…it softens, though I must admit that I prefer the shade of the Oak to that piddling amount of cover provided by the Retama.

Against the big Texas sky, Retama foliage is stunning.

The foliage contrasts with summer

And sometimes, reflects it.

The foliage is fresh and verdant and that is welcome in late summer.

Clusters of Retama flowers are visited by bees, butterflies and hummingbirds. All the blooms are now situated at the top of the tree, whereas previously, individual blooms were scattered along the lower branches.  Because the flowers are high on the tree and summer breezes blow, I’ve had a difficult time getting adequate close-up shots.

In the tangle of sunny yellow are freckles of red/orange “honey” petals, typical of each individual flower.  When the bloom first opens, the honey petal is not yellow, but a paler version of that orangey-red.  Once the flower is pollinated, that “honey” petal turns a deeper color and curls backward.  Retama flowers are a colorful two-fer gift.

As bloom time wanes, the seedpods are growing larger, maturing, and turning brown. That is probably the biggest change since my Tree Following July report.

Retama seeds are edible and also used as fodder for farm animals in parts of the world where this tree grows, whether in its native region (southwest US, Mexico and parts of South America) or where it is an introduced and often, an invasive species.  The seed pods will continue developing as fall approaches, eventually dropping to the ground. While this tree has become a problem plant in some areas of the world (Australia has banned it), I’ve rarely had seedlings develop from my tree.  When seedlings have germinated and grown, they don’t make it through winters. That said, out in open areas of south and west Texas, Retama must germinate well and often enough because there are plenty of Retama trees which dot and decorate the rugged Texas landscape and adjacent highways.

Until September…please visit Lucy at Loose and Leafy to learn about other trees being followed for August.

Love your trees!!

31 thoughts on “Tree Following: August Oven, 2015

  1. I’m always amazed at how tough the trees in the pea family are – when everything else looks ratty from heat / cold / drought they are usually in flower looking lush and green!


  2. Tina your Retama looks so fresh in it’s cool green, the foliage is a good contrast to the other trees and still with flowers is a bonus, thanks for explaining about how they develop, Frances


  3. Phew! You are right – it is toasty plus outside and yet in your photos (viewed from the cool safety of indoors)that retama looks cool, green and inviting. It is no wonder wildlife flock to the trees in these hottest days of August. Great shots btw – getting feathery foliage that is usually moving in the breeze is no small task. Retama is a wonderful native and perhaps it will begin to be used more often now its resilience and beauty are becoming more widely appreciated. That would be a win for everyone!


    • Ha! I’ve wondered how the squirrels handle the heat, but judging by their energy level-just fine. One of the cut things I often see squirrels to is the flatten themselves along the branches of my oaks their front and back legs dangling over the branches. I guess it cools their tummies.


  4. I really like how you’ve juxtapoxed the retama leaves with the neighbour trees. Nice contrasts. And I was struck by the colour of the bark and the colour of the squirrel fur — how in some light they are most similar. Fur and bark, different textures but similar effects. You can say pesky all you like but I think they are photogenic!


  5. Like you I love this tree and the beautiful flowers. I’m not exactly out west but I have seedlings growing all over the place. It began with one across the road which moved over to our side. Soon there were 3 growing. Now I find one in my front garden and have no idea how it got there. One of the nasty thorns got my husband on the ear the other day. He was not happy.


    • Interesting that you have so many seedlings, Jenny. I only one, here and there. I did find another just recently–it’s promised to a neighbor, so I hope I don’t forget to dig it up for her once the weather softens. If the weather softens. 🙂

      I certainly sympathize with your Hub–those thorn deliver a nasty ding!!


  6. A beautiful tree adapted to the hot and dry climate, naturally. How much work would be to try and grow something that needs lots of water? I repeat after the squirrel – Love your trees! 🙂


    • Retama are beautiful trees. Some people do grow plants here that require lots of water, though I certainly discourage it (see California). We’re not so different from other arid places and will continue to stress our water resources.


  7. Pingback: A Seasonal Look: Retama (Parkinsonia aculeata) | My Gardener Says…

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