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Saturday - July 18, 2009

From: Austin, TX
Region: Southwest
Topic: Herbs/Forbs
Title: Does a cenizo really predict rain in Austin?
Answered by: Barbara Medford

QUESTION:

Mr. Smarty Plants, folklore has it that the flowering of Cenizo (aka Barometer Bush) is a predictor of rain fall. The Cenizo in South Austin is blooming profusely right now. Does this portend a Noachian event here in Austin? If so, the local weather forecasters are missing the tipoff, since the current weather predictions contain minimal chances for rain. Is there really any link between the flowering of Cenizo and imminent rain fall? Thanks, weatherwatcher

ANSWER:

We had heard the same tale that blooming on a Leucophyllum frutescens (Texas barometer bush) was a predictor of rain; however, our observation was that they were much more likely to bloom AFTER a rain, rather than before. We searched around for someone more expert than we are to tell us the truth. The consensus is that this flowering is triggered by high humidity or soil moisture after it rains. If there is a lot of humidity in the air, even if it hasn't rained yet, that can cause blooming too. This plant can bloom intermittently 12 months of the year, and is really a tough desert plant. Apparently, there has been a lot of humidity in the Austin area lately, although who could believe it, with the heat?  So, does all the blooming around Austin (and we have noticed it, too) portend rain? We can only hope.


Leucophyllum frutescens

Leucophyllum frutescens

Leucophyllum frutescens

Leucophyllum frutescens

 

 

 

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