Celebrating the prickly agarito

The agarito is a tough little plant well known to most Texas gardeners. Not only is it native, it's proving itself to be drought-resistant and easily swims through heavy rainfall as long as its roots can drain. I've fallen in love with the plant for its fragrance, though. Starting in mid-February, the pairs of fat buds swell among the prickly leaves. They burst open in bright yellow, timing to match the jonquil narcissus in my front garden. Here's a photo of the blooms, courtesy of the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center's Native Plants Database. Agarito blooms provide an early spring feast for bees. The fragrance can spread across 100 feet of yard from one shrub. This year,  I was walking down the driveway for the mail one day and the wind hit me. I thought, "What is that smell? I know that scent. It's time for spring!" Following the fragrance as it got stronger, I walked across to the first of the agaritos grinning cheerily at me and the bumblebees.

February jonquil
February jonquil

What the bees are seeking

Though it definitely attracted me, it wasn't until the narcissus started blooming a few days later that I got the point about the scent attracting important pollinators.  I love the agarito's tiny flowers and scent. Nose twitching as I bend to sniff, I recall matching scents of narcissus, daffodils and other flowers in the spring in other places - Barcelona, Oregon, Australia.  An article from the UK notes that most narcissus have now been hybridized so they don't yield the pollen the bees are seeking. Gotta test this for myself, so next spring will find me on my knees ( if I can get there!) to explore this idea when the jonquils flower. No worry about the agaritos, though. Hybridizing hasn't hit them yet.

Connecting past and future springs?

Much as I love the flowers, the scent is my memory marker, and I'm grateful that the agarito shares so readily, with the fragrance reaching the screen porch and sliding in around the door. Inside or out, I'm keeping this Texas native to recall memories of spring. What about you? What scents say "spring" to you from where you're living now or where you've lived or traveled before? If you're ready to explore more about the fragrances special to your yard and your brain, call Second Summer.

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