They’re Everywhere, But Have You Seen Them?

At the same time I initially charted the Valerianella, I did another of spring’s tiny-flowered plants, Sherardia arvensis, commonly called Herb Sherard.

This plant is absolutely everywhere in Central Texas in the spring. It’s one of the first plants to blossom, starting as early as January, and here it is nearly May and it’s still going at it.

This plant, which is the only member of its genus (no need to decide which species to draw!), is in the Rubiaceae, the same family that gives us Bluets, Gardenias, and Coffee. The plants are low, with slender stems. The leaves are in whorls at each node, and the tiny, four-petaled, lavender flowers are borne in clusters at the ends of the branches. Since the whole plant is about six inches tall, it easy to overlook these little beauties.

Field Madder

Up close, the flowers look a lot like Bluets, but they’re only one quarter to one half the size!

The plants usually grow in clusters, which can make sussing out their branching pattern a little tricky. I drew one plant and simplified it a bit.

I originally charted it as drawn, trying to fit the squares to the sketched flower shapes.
The results were less than satisfactory. The essential four-petaled-ness of the flowers was lost. In the end, I decided to chart the flowers all as crosses and to vary the floss color used just a bit to help keep them distinct.

Stitched up, it will look something like this:

I’m still not sure if I’m entirely happy with this. Are there too many flowers per cluster? Are the clusters too big? Too dark? Do I need to use a lighter green? Probably “yes” to that last, but let’s be honest–most little herbaceous plants have about the same color foliage, unless they’re furry or waxy. Chlorophyll is approximately DMC 3347. I can’t make every design call for the same colors of floss, though, since the ultimate goal is to stitch all of them together in one ginormous piece. Something has to be a little darker, something lighter, something bluer, something grayer. Also, the colors the program displays aren’t exact matches for the floss. The darkest green is 3362, and all the greens (except maybe the stem and the withered leaves at the base) are from this palette:

Nothing near as black as what the program displays. But when it comes time to put needle to fabric, I may well lighten everything up a notch. Second-guessing can lead to remorse!