To get to the outcrop itself, we had to wade across Coal Creek, to which we would return at the end of the trip. The outcrop is on private land, far removed from the crowds of bluebonnet-hunters we'd encountered on the way in. It was just us and the plants!
Along the road and here and there at the base of the outcrop we saw plenty of Deer Pea Vetch, Vicia ludoviciana.
We noticed that the flowers were a little paler than those of the plants back in Brazos County--it's the ones from home that are shown here.
Often mistaken for vetches are species of Astragalus or Loco Weed. A good way to tell them apart is the presence or absence of tendrils--Vicia has them and Astragalus does not. The plant here is probably Astragalus nuttallianus.
We saw several varieties of it on various parts of the outcrop and along the creek.In the shade of some scrubby trees, we found Drummond Skullcap, Scutellaria drummondii.
It has the two-lipped (bilabiate) corolla typical of most members of the mint family. The most distinctive feature of Scutellaria is the crest on the calyx (reddish in these images). It has been described as looking like a "tractor seat from an old John Deere", which is certainly the case.
One wouldn't expect to find ferns in such a dry area, but some species can survive even here, given shade and a bit of water. This fern is Cheilanthes alabamensis, Alabama Lipfern.
We would meet its cousin, C. tomentosa, later in the day. The common name describes how the spores on the underside of the leaf are covered by the inrolled margin of the frond. The clover-like leaves in the background belong to a species of Wood Sorrel (Oxalis).
Climb the Side of the Outcrop or return to the Introduction.