Trailing Windmills

This lovely member of the four-o’clock family, with the mellifluous scientific name Allionia incarnate, lives in deserts and arid grasslands from Texas to southern Nevada and southeastern California, its wiry stems sprawling across the ground. The hot-colored but otherwise average-looking flowers hide an anatomical secret. Here’s a hint: How many flowers do you see in the accompanying photo? —SW

Sheri and Tom (Southwest)

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4 Responses to “Trailing Windmills”

  1. Okay, Sheri, I’ve slept on it and still don’t know…what IS the secret?

  2. Sheri says:

    Aw, should I give it away so soon?

  3. 9 flowers…3 per each head…the plant is also known as hierba de la hormiga….the herb of the ants, but I have no clue why

    • Sheri says:

      Exactly right, Burr! Very odd anatomy for a non-composite. I wonder if the Spanish name is an analog to fleabane or wolfsbane, una hierba contra hormigas.