The plants near the creek really suffered this year. Spring brought a record flood; summer was absolutely dry. We lost a lot of diversity with only the toughest & most invasive plants managing to survive. Or so I thought until I spotted this treasure blooming along the shrub edge.
Drummond’s wood-sorrel is native to our area of Texas. It can also be found in New Mexico and Arizona. The patch I found was growing in very loose but moist sand in part shade. Companions were sedges, wild onion and Chrysogonum virginianum.
Here is another view of the delicate flower:
The leaves look like a bit like boomerangs.
Drummond’s wood-sorrel is edible. The leaves and flowers can be tossed into salads but the taste is quite tart so use sparingly. Not recommended for anyone suffering from gout.
This oxalis is supposed to be a food source for quail — or so the internet tells me. I’ve never actually seen quail in the wild here. Wouldn’t that be a nice surprise! Quail like to eat dewberries, wild grapes, ragweed seeds, grass seed, acorns and lots of arthropods. As I learned more about what quail like I realized the area near our creek is nearly a perfect habitat for them. We even have clumps of Eastern gamagrass growing here and there to provide cover and safe nesting spaces. No hunting would be permitted since the area is bordered by houses. They could completely avoid contact with pesticides and herbicides.
I started to think about the idea of purposefully introducing quail the way we purposefully introduce plants and trees.
Of course everything started getting murky when I looked into the details. The quail that should live here have been extirpated and are listed on an endangered species list. Northern Bobwhite quail eggs are available though. People rear them like chickens so the eggs are cheap and easy to find.
But the more I looked the less I liked the idea. The eggs are cheap and easy to find because they are factory products. Yet, quail are of course sentient beings. If you have any doubt, here’s a sweet video of a baby quail:
Quail, like chickens, speak to their mothers even when they are still in the egg. They tell her if they are feeling too cold or warm. Sometimes, they call out just to hear her voice. And she speaks to them. Who knows what she says but I am sure it is comforting to the chicks just to hear her voice and to know that someone in the world is watching out for them.
I don’t know if I could feel good about buying a batch of orphaned eggs. How would the little birds learn to forage or hide from predators? Would bonding with each other be good enough to maintain their quail ways? Perhaps worse of all … might they accidentally learn to be too trusting of humans?
So maybe I’ll scratch the idea of purposefully introducing quail. If quail want to live in our little quail paradise they are just going to have to find it for themselves.