The public is invited to take a stroll through the Lake Kirby Nature Park, followed by a time of spiritual reflection, beginning at 6:30 p.m. Wednesday, April 24.

The program is a collaboration between Matthew Broyles, minister to emerging adults at First Baptist Church, and Rick Hammer, associate professor of biology at Hardin-Simmons University, and a member of the West Texas Science Center. The event will start with Hammer leading a nature walk along the Kirby boardwalk. He will talk about plants and animals and offer interesting bits of information about the ecology. Following the walk, the group will gather under the pavillion for a time of reflection and discussion about the experience.

For Hammer, the special program is part of his personal ministry of reconciliation of God’s creation. He previously guest taught a First Baptist Church Sunday school class that included how Kirby is a daily focal point of both his secular and spiritual work. The title of the Sunday school lesson is, “Kingdom Building with Christ: I won’t fly away and other tales of restoration, reconciliation, and reconnecting with God’s Creation.”

Below are photos taken by Hammer, with explanations beneath them.



Gallardia or Indian Blanket or Firewheel starting to bloom at Kirby! This much beloved plant happens to be the state wildflower of Oklahoma and is a member of the sunflower family. Would you believe that in the first image you are looking at about 50 actual flowers? What appear to be petals are actually individual small flowers called ray flowers. This wildflower is an annual that is easily grown from seeds sown in the fall in our area. I am working on some fall native plant restoration projects at Kirby and we will include Firewheel in our seed mix!

Salvia or Texas Sage now in flower at Kirby. Imagine that you are a bee. First image gives you the view that a bee sees when climbing down the throat of a flower. In the second image look especially at the two long projections towards the top of the flower. These are part of the anthers, which are the male parts that produce pollen. When a bee climbs into a flower he/she has to push against these projections, and this results in pollen being pressed onto their backs or heads as they enter. Flower and pollination engineering for bees!

Oenothera or Pink Evening Primrose along the cement path from the boardwalk down to the lake. This plant started blooming this past week and continue to increase in coverage well into summer. Primrose spreads vegetatively by rhizomes, which are horizontal underground stems. This lets a parent plant clone itself and produce many new above ground plants quickly. This is why it’s common to see Pink Evening Primrose growing in dense populations or colonies, making it one of our showiest and most abundant wildflowers!

Chamaesaracha or False Nightshade or Prostrate Ground-Cherry, which is a member of the beloved tomato family. The term prostrate means to  “lie close to the ground” and this is how you will find this plant in its natural habitat. False Nightshade is sometimes considered to be an aggressive species of disturbed places, but I find the flowers to be very attractive nonetheless. I even think that the Latin or scientific name for this species is attractive as well: Chamaesaracha coniodes. Notice that the 5 petals of the flower are all fused together. You can easily see the 5 stamens or male parts of the flower. Can you spot the female part of the flower?


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