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ORRIN MORRIS: Leaves of the 3-inch diamorpha resemble tiny hot water bottles

God did not just create the world and walk away. He is still at work, lovingly watching over His creation. Not even a sparrow falls without His awareness. Luke 12:6-7 reads, "Are not five sparrows sold for two pennies? Yet not one of them is forgotten by God. Indeed, the very hairs of your head are all numbered."

More than that illustration, God watches over us and surrounds us with love.

DIAMORPHIA

Diamorpha smallii

The diamorpha is red in February and March but when it actually blooms, the flowers will be white.

During the winter, patches of diamorpha appear in the indentions atop the granite outcrops in our area. One Sunday in February, I visited a nearby outcrop and inspected the red patches where thousands of 3/16-inch ball-shaped plants awaited longer daylight and warmer breezes. By April, a second visit revealed white blooms had begun to appear, as sketched.

Diamorpha, also called elf orpine, when springing to life, causes stems to rise 3 inches. The light red stem has deep red -inch leaves that alternate for about 2 inches, after which branching occurs. The tiny leaves are oval-shaped, thick and have the appearance of little hot water bottles.

Along and at the ends of the branches, tiny white blooms ( -inch) form. These have four petals, eight stamens and a pistil. When the buds first open, four of the stamens are attached to the center vein of the petal.

The pistil looks like a fuzzy white ball in the center of the bloom. As the flower matures, the stamens seem to pop loose, scattering pollen. Within a day or so the pistil splits into four seed cases (carpels). Shortly after this, the petals drop and the plant dies.

Throughout summer and fall, the tiny stem stays erect to hold the seeds aloft. The granite becomes heated and the summer showers that occasionally fill the indention with rain quickly evaporate. The tiny stems gallantly hold the seeds high to prevent their germination.

As winter approaches, the stems collapse and the seed cases discharge the seeds. The late fall and winter rains cause the seeds to sprout what appears to be tiny red balls and the cycle begins again.

There are many granite outcroppings in the east metro area. Many of these have long been useless parts of the properties of farmers and timber men.

However, as the economy has shifted from agriculture and cattle to manufacturing and service industries, the outcroppings offer us a useful venue for nature excursions and study. Some, like the one I frequently visit, unfortunately have been sites for dumping garbage and other waste.

There is abounding evidence of adaptive processes all about us. We would do well if we were better stewards of these outcrops.

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.