False Gaura

Stenosiphon lilifolius

One of my favorite flowers in late summer-early fall. It has beautiful white flowers standing above the dry grasses and short forbs. It is surprisingly different from others in the Evening Primrose family. It is, of course, part of the ONAGRACEAE family of Evening Primroses. It certainly does not resemble its more showy cousins, such as, the Flutter Mill, Pink Evening Primrose, or the Beach Evening Primrose from an earlier post. The overall general appearance is more like the Gaura, hence it’s name, the False Gaura.

Click on the Photos for a better look.

False GauraFt. Worth Nature Center & Refuge
Notice the reletatively few branches,each bearing many flowers on a spike. These are set on semi-woody green stems, of which, the main stem is reddish-brown at the base.


Line drawing
Notice the sepals bent sharply back and how the petals are set on a slender tube which is part of the inferior ovary. A very interesting plant with unusual construction.

Stems: Erect, 1-3, slender, wiry-branched in inflorescence, waxy, usually glabrous to inflorescence, somewhat brittle.
Leaves: Alternate, simple, sessile, lanceolate, 1 to 3 inches long, 1/4 to 3/4 inch wide, glabrous; margins entire, whitish; tips pointed; lower leaves often absent at flowering; upper leaves reduced, linear-lanceolate. One of the really interesting facts is that False Gaura drops its leaves during periods of drought and conducts photosynthesis in the stem.
Inflorescence: Spikes, elongate, terminal, glandular-hairy.
Flowers: About 1/2 inch across, sessile; sepals 4, oblong-lanceolate, whitish, sparsely pubescent, bent abruptly backward; petals 4, less than 1/4 inch long, white, clawed, at end of threadlike floral tube; stamens 8, unequal; style as long or longer than stamens, stigma 4-lobed.
Fruits: Capsules, nut-like, egg-shaped, conspicuously ribbed, pubescent, 1-seeded; seeds small, whitish yellow.
Habitat: Dry, rocky, prairie hillsides, roadsides, stream valleys, and waste places, most abundant on gently sloping limestone soils.
Symbol: STLI2
Group: Dicot
Family: Onagraceae –    Evening Primrose family
Duration: Perennial – A rosette of leaves develops in the fall of the first year, and the stem arises in the second year.
Growth Habit: Sub-shrub – Height up to 8-10 feet
Native Status: L48,  N
Flowering Period: July, August, September

Stenosiphon lilifolius with Megaphasma denticrus
Bonus Photo – Immature Giant Walking Stick
Body length – probably less than two inches

I have been on the lookout all summer for a giant walking stick, to no avail. Little did I realize that I had captured the elusive creature until I returned home and was viewing my photos. If I had known he/she was there, I would have photographed him/her some more. Did you ever look at a photo and say,”Wow, I didn’t know that was in the photo!”.

Don’t forget to leave a comment!
Have you seen one this year?
I know Marvin has. He posted a nice one earlier. Giant Walking Stick(click here).

U.S. Distribution

Texas Distribution by County
Go to the USDA Plant Database, click on the state, and find the county distribution for your locality.

USDA-NRCS PLANTS Database / Britton, N.L., and A. Brown. 1913. An illustrated flora of the northern United States, Canada and the British Possessions. Vol. 2: 610.
Marshall Enquist, Wildflowers of the Texas Hill country
Mike Haddock, Agriculture Librarian and Chair of the Sciences Department at Kansas State University Libraries.
Harold William Rickett, Wildflowers of the United State, Vol III(Texas), Part 1.
Range maps: USDA, NRCS. 2009. The PLANTS Database . National Plant Data Center, Baton Rouge, LA 70874-4490 USA.

Troy & Martha

About Troy

Retired Scientist and Naturalist. Avid Bible reader
This entry was posted in Ft. Worth Nature Center, insects, USDA Plant Database, Wildflowers and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

3 Responses to False Gaura

  1. Marvin says:

    I would have never guessed this plant was a member of the Primrose Family.

    I find a lot of insects in my photos that I didn’t see when I took the photo.

    Great post, Troy. Very informative.

  2. MObugs41 says:

    The flower images are beautiful. Guara is one of my favorites as well. There is something so delicate about them. The walking stick was a definite bonus! I’ve taken pictures of things on several occasions and discovered hidden bonuses. Those are some of the best pictures. Great post.

  3. Interesting plant – I’ll have to keep an eye out for it here (perhaps down in the White River Hills).

    Yep, I saw a beauty of a giant walkingstick in July: North America’s longest insect

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s