Portraits of Wildflowers

Perspectives on Nature Photography

Archive for June 27th, 2011

Welcome to the Texas Hill Country

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It may seem from many of my recent photographs that I live on the prairie. For most of my years in Austin I did live on the prairie side of town, and I enjoy going back there to take pictures, but seven years ago we moved westward to the Great Hills neighborhood on the other side of Austin. We’re now about one mile inside the Texas Hill Country, so just minutes from home I can walk in canyons and on hillsides and along creeks in areas that because of their terrain aren’t likely ever to be developed (hooray!).

A couple of days ago I went to one of those neighborhood places that I’m happy to visit from time to time, and there to my delight I found a native plant that I don’t encounter all that often and that many of you have probably never seen or heard of, even though I was surprised to learn that it grows throughout large parts of North America. Known by the botanical mouthful-of-a-name Polanisia dodecandra ssp. trachysperma, it’s commonly called clammyweed (or the internally rhyming sandyseed clammyweed), though I think a name like gooeyplant or gooflower would be better, because this species exudes droplets of liquid that make it gooey to the touch. And of course I’d replace the weed part of the name: people may call it a weed, but I’m always fascinated by the plant’s flowers, with the implied motion of their many stamens shooting off in so many directions (and making photographing them a challenge). So now, following the better part of a century after T.S. Eliot,

You don’t have to ask “What is it?”
You’re free to make your visual visit.

© 2011 Steven Schwartzman

(For more information about clammyweed, including a clickable map showing the many places where the plant grows, you can visit the USDA website.)

Written by Steve Schwartzman

June 27, 2011 at 7:38 AM

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