Apteria aphylla, nodding nixies, were one of those fall blooming species that I had been dying to see for several years now. Chris couldn’t believe I hadn’t come across any but we hadn’t been in their habitat locations during the fall and typically he’s the one doing the field work these days which meant he’s had ample opportunities to see them, moreso than I have. But, seeing them in person finally happened for me when I came across the in the Big Thicket last year. And there were tons to see!
Nodding nixies are in the Burmanniaceae family, which means if you’ve ever seen a Burmannia spp. before, you know that they can really blend in with leaf litter quite well. They aren’t very tall and their stems are dark and fade right into the beech and magnolia leaf piles on the forest floor. The purple is even just that right shade of coloring that if the light catches it right you just might see it but there’s an equal chance you may not!
Nodding nixies are mycotrophic plants, which means they get their nutrients from fungi in the vast network of fungi that accumulates in the decaying leaf litter of wet to mesic forest floors. We found these in the Beech Creek Unit of the Big Thicket but look throughout SE Texas in this kind of habitat and you are sure to come across them. Their range is the coastal south, starting in SE Texas through a significant portion of Florida. Start keeping an eye out for them now, though it may be a bit dry this year for them to be up and blooming now, until late November.
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