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Ooh, what is this?

A few weekends back, my mother and I went on a little foraging adventure in Helotes, TX (my hometown). We were out checking the local creeks for driftwood and as we were driving and admiring the local wildflowers on the side of the road I noticed this incredibly unusual plant along a creek bed. I immediately turned the vehicle around. As we parked on the opposite side of the road, we both looked over in wonder at with this plant could possibly be. We took out our phones and immediately pulled up our plant apps (yes, you need to get one, it will change your life if you love plants and finding out what they are. I use PlantSnap) so we could discover exactly what this beautifully unusual plant was. The picture above is the one I took.

We both were so enamored with its unusual shaped flowers (yes, those are little white flowers that are making a round ball, soooo cool) and the different dimensions they came in. Also, when the flowers died, they turned this cool rust color. The plant gives me a very 60's, mid-century modern feeling. What comes to mind when you first saw it?

Through our plant investigating apps we found that this unique plant is a shrub and can grow to be the size of a small tree! The flowers, as mentioned before, are arranged in a dense spherical inflorescence (How cool is that?!), like little pinwheels. These small blossoms release an intensely sweet scent. I cut a few and put into a vase and they had this amazing, honey sweet aroma that filled up the room. The buttonbush are usually found in swamps, moist low-lying or irrigated areas, and margins of streams. This correlates with where we found them.

Did you know...?

There is a town in California named Buttonwillow, which was named for the buttonbush. A lone buttonbush served as a landmark on an old trans-San Joaquin Valley trail and was used by ancient Yokut Indians as a meeting place. It later became the site of settlers' stock rodeos. This buttonbush tree is listed as a California Historical Landmark No. 492, and is now known as the "Buttonwillow Tree."

Interestingly enough, the buttonbush shrub that we saw was the only one in the area. I will always treasure that day my mother and I had so much fun exploring and enjoying the beautiful hillcountry together.

I hope you all have a wonderful weekend and are able to get out and find your own unique flower to cultivate and enjoy!

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