ORRIN MORRIS: The unique and exotic pool sprite exists in our own front yard

Pool Sprite Amphianthus pusillus

Pool Sprite Amphianthus pusillus

Charles Darwin's observations have made a profound impact on modern thought. There are at least two issues his theory of evolution did not address: how, when or where life began and how to explain gravity.

Generally, in the plant world a single plant blooms, is pollinated and produces seeds that later sprout and produce more plants to continue the cycle. There are other forms of reproduction, but the issue remains -- how did life originate?

Personally, I am weary of the debate about Darwin's postulates. Most things have developed and adapted in positive or negative ways, but some have not changed, as is the case with today's wildflower.


Amphianthus pusillus

The pool sprite, also called snorkelwort, is a member of the foxglove family but it is the only member of its genus. It is considered a very ancient native plant with no close living relatives. Its only habitat is in the solution pools atop granite outcroppings, as found in locations like Stone Mountain and the Georgia International Horse Park in Rockdale County.

Pool sprite is an annual with a very short period of time to flower and develop seed. The winter rains fill the solution pools and the seeds sprout. As spring arrives and the solution warms, the 2-inch plant puts up a threadlike scape, or snorkle.

At the water's surface, two -inch shiny green bracts form. In the center, the single tiny white flower forms. Often, along the scape another flower bud appears but it never opens. It is thus assumed that the plants are self pollinating because later a seed appears where the submerged blossom had been.

If the spring season is rainy, the life of the plant is extended several weeks. If the season is dry, the reproductive cycle may be less than two weeks. When the pool dries up the plant dies and the seeds remain nestled in the sediment.

The seed of this very determined species endures the parching heat of the summer to sprout in midwinter, awaiting the warm rays of the spring sun.

As I reflect on the visit to the fenced area near the pool sprite, I am glad that the plant is protected. We do not have to travel to far off places to observe unique and exotic plants. They exist in our front yard.

In 1995, when construction of the horse park was underway, these tiny and fragile specimens caused the mighty earth moving equipment to be parked for however many days it took to assess and secure the habitat. Some people reacted with disgust over the concern of environmentalists while others mused at the ability of fragile and ancient artifacts to cause us to reassess our values.

John 1:4 says, "In him was life; and the life was the light of men" (KJV). This scripture not only satisfies my faith in the Creator but it reminds me that His giving of life also enlightens my spiritual journey.

It is far more important how God enlivens me to be a useful and positive part of society, than any debate of someone's theory.

Orrin Morris is a retired Baptist minister, local artist and art teacher. Notecards are available of the wildflowers published in the Citizen. His e-mail is odmsketchingpad@yahoo.com or call him at 770-929-3697.