I look forward to Jim Rodwell’s Sand Paper column, “Beach Botany,” a photo of a flower, combined with its life story. The pictures are beautiful; the narratives flow like a river. But this week, there would be no relaxing with such charmers as “Princess-of-the-Night” cactus flower, or “Climbing Astor.” Instead, a close-up of a pile of dead weeds clearly shredded by an old, rusty-bladed, push lawn-mower. I checked to see if I had my reading glasses on. I did. Upon further examination, I made out an acorn-cap and two thistle-balls you wouldn’t want to find in your dog’s coat. Below the picture, the…uh…flower’s soubriquet: A PURPLE-HEADED SNEEZEWEED!
Egad! Was this Jim’s idea of an insider’s joke to amuse his fans? (Having joined Jim for his moon-walks, I can attest to his devilish sense of humor.) I googled and found that not only do they sport pretty yellow and orange flowers when alive, but that there are a myriad of sneezeweed species, the name itself born of the discovery by some genius, who found that you could dry their petals and stuff them up your nose. Voila! The joy of a fit of sneezing without the addictive rush of nicotine shot directly into your nasal capillaries. (Snorting snuff has been known to kill some users within seconds.)
On that note, I hope our editor will publish an alternative to Jim’s choice, my shot of the most gorgeous red flower I’ve ever seen. It grows on a vine strangling the tropical vegetation at the side of my road. Also, a second shot of the flower in its decline. During its last gasp, the flower doesn’t wilt, it erupts! I’m calling it, “The Fort Myers Beach Firecracker.”
Mary-Ann Tirone Smith
Fort Myers Beach
Editor’s note: The photo of the Purple-headed Sneezeweed in the November 1 Beach Botany article did not include any florets because, as explained in the accompanying text, the species of this plant that grows in the Everglades National Park, where the photo was taken, do not have florets.
The submitted photo appears to be a Red Passion Flower.