AMARYLLIS FAMILY - Amaryllidaceae: Yellow Star-grass

Hypoxis hirsuta (H. erecta)

Flowers--Bright yellow within, greenish and hairy outside, about 1/2 in. across, 6-parted; the perianth divisions spreading, narrowly oblong; a few flowers at the summit of a rough, hairy scape 2 to 6 in. high. Leaves: All from an egg-shaped corm; mostly longer than scapes, slender, grass-like, more or less hairy.

Preferred Habitat--Dry, open woods, prairies, grassy waste places, fields.

Flowering Season--May-October.

Distribution--From Maine far westward, and south to the Gulf of Mexico.

Usually only one of these little blossoms in a cluster on each plant opens at a time; but that one peers upward so brightly from among the grass it cannot well be overlooked. Sitting in a meadow sprinkled over with these yellow stars, we see coming to them many small bees--chiefly Halictus--to gather pollen for their unhatched babies' bread. Of course they do not carry all the pollen to their tunnelled nurseries; some must often be rubbed off on the sticky pistil tip in the centre of other stars. The stamens radiate, that self-fertilization need not take place except as a last extremity. Visitors failing, the little flower closes, bringing its pollen-laden anthers in contact with its own stigma.