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ORRIN MORRIS: Find buttonweed in your backyard

The diversity of the wildflower kingdom is minor compared to the diversity of humanity. Every individual is unique although he or she dwells within a family, a community and a culture.

The issue we face is learning to live together in an increasingly crowded world that can instantly communicate information. That information may be accurate or erroneous, helpful or destructive, loving or hateful.

According to the U.S. Census Bureau, world population increases about 77 million in 12 months. In only one year, it increases more than the total population of Georgia, Florida, South Carolina, North Carolina, Virginia, Kentucky, Tennessee, Alabama, Mississippi, Louisiana and Arkansas combined.

The highest form of worship is the expression of gratitude for God’s creativity, His love and His grace that redeems us from sin. Not only did Jesus teach us to love God completely but He commanded us “to love our neighbor as ourselves” (Matthew 22:39).

The wildflower for today depicts that important truth, that is, righteousness is both vertical (to God) and horizontal (to our neighbor).

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BUTTONWEED

Diodia virginiana

This wildflower is found in shallow ditches, low moist areas on a flat lawn and along the banks of streams. It grows along the ground, often nestled under lawn-grass like Bermuda and fescue.

Sometimes the light pinkish-green stem will rise a few inches and even branch out. As the stem moves laterally the leaves are positioned at right angles in clusters, as illustrated.

Buttonweed flowers have four petals with two stigmas that extend beyond the petals. They are very long compared to the 2/3-inch bloom. Contrary to most wildflowers, there are only two to four stamens and they barely rise above the petals. Thus fertilization depends greatly on wandering insects.

The flowers appear where the leaves join the stem. The leaves are generally horizontal and appear in pairs on opposite sides. From these leaf axils the tubular flower rises as pictured in the inset.

The buttonweed’s other distinguishing feature is the seed case that gives the plant its name. Note in the sketch the light green buds where the blooms used to be. These are the seed cases or fruit produced by the plant. These “buttons” are useless except to the survival of the species.

Buttonweed begins blooming in late May and continues until the first frost unless an extended dry spell kills the plant. Finally, it is not known for any medicinal purpose but is a good example of the diversity of the wildflower kingdom.

May we learn to live and act in such a way that peace and harmony will overcome the chaos that divides us here in our state, as well as around the world.

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 Street in Olde Town Conyers. Email him at odmsketchingpad@yahoo.com.