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ORRIN MORRIS: Yellow star-grass a solitary plant that prefers open woods, meadows

Yellow star-grass

Yellow star-grass

Several years ago, astronomers announced the discovery of a new planet. It is named Gliese 581 e and orbits its sun 20 light years away. Of the hundreds of known planets outside our solar system at the time, it was the smallest; however, every discovery like this adds to the wonder of the universe.

I remember the awe I felt as a child during a Nebraska winter when the sky was crystal clear. I could see stars twinkling in every direction I turned. My parents taught me Psalm 19:1 “The heavens declare the glory of God; and the firmament showeth his handiwork.” (KJV)

The wildflower featured for this column has a common name that is rooted in the universe.

YELLOW STAR-GRASS

Hypoxis hirsuta

The blooms of the yellow star-grass can generally be seen in the spring between March and June, but in cooler climates they can bloom into September. They measure about 3/4-inch wide, with six petals and six erect stamens. A leafless stem rises from the root and has a few branches, the top of which holds the bloom, as pictured.

The leaves are basal, very thin, stiff and hairy, rising to about 10 inches high. The plants are rarely found in clusters, but are most often solitary in open woods or meadows.

Yellow star-grass, also called common goldstar, is in the daffodil family. It produces in two ways: by seeds that mature during the summer; and by a corm, a thick and solid swelling underground from which the stems emerge. A corm is similar to a bulb but is less symmetrical and not soft like a bulb.

Yellow star-grass is native to the U.S. and there is no record of any herbal use.

Today, street lights, security lights, and flood lights that shine on billboards or a building’s facade block out all but the brightest stars and planets. Few places can be found where an unhindered view of the sky is possible within an hour’s drive of my house.

However, a clear sight of the sky is worth the search no matter how far we must drive because, “The heavens declare the glory of God; and the firmament showeth his handiwork.”

Orrin Morris is a retired Baptist minister, local artist and art teacher. This column is included in a two-volume set of books of wildflower columns he has published. To purchase the books, visit the Nature Seen Gallery & Frame Shop, 914 Center St. in Olde Town Conyers. Email him at odmsketchingpad@yahoo.com.