Portraits of Wildflowers

Perspectives on Nature Photography

Camphorweed Lights the Way

with 11 comments

Opening bud of camphorweed, Heterotheca subaxillaris.

Although most of the structures of Austin’s former Mueller Airport have been demolished as part of the redevelopment of the site, one thing that remains is the old air traffic control tower. Those of you who don’t remember it or have never seen it can have a look at some photographs posted by the Austin American-Statesman. Then tell me if you don’t find today’s “towering” camphorweed bud, all one inch of it, a better emblem of the site. I even give you leave to see it as a resinous torch tipped with yellow flames guiding the way.

As yesterday’s post mentioned, Heterotheca subaxillaris is commonly called camphorweed because of its distinctive odor. That scent is conveyed by the sticky resin that most parts of the plant exude in tiny drops; you can see dozens of those droplets on the green bracts and stem shown here. As I wished yesterday that you could smell the plant, I wish today that you could feel its stickiness on your fingers.

© 2011 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

July 10, 2011 at 10:09 AM

11 Responses

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  1. What a beautiful flower – looks like an alien species – never saw these before. Thank you very much for posting these – your camera angles really do it justice.

    Jennifer Shepherd

    July 10, 2011 at 4:15 PM

    • Thanks. I’m fond of angles, some of them rather strange (perhaps the heritage of having taught trigonometry). Happily camphorweed is a native species, even if it looks like an alien to you (different senses of alien). I was surprised to learn that camphorweed grows in most of the states of the US, the exceptions being the coldest or northernmost states.

      Steve Schwartzman

      July 10, 2011 at 4:37 PM

  2. Nice, Steve


    July 10, 2011 at 4:26 PM

  3. very nice! I love the detail.

    Sheila Creighton

    July 10, 2011 at 7:17 PM

    • Yes, without a macro lens (or a magnifying glass) we couldn’t see all that detail. Being able to make it so large on a computer monitor is also an asset — but of course we used to use slide projectors and photographic enlargers for that.

      Steve Schwartzman

      July 10, 2011 at 7:51 PM

  4. Very pretty shot!


    July 11, 2011 at 12:15 AM

  5. amazing detail, beautiful!


    July 12, 2011 at 1:35 PM

  6. […] July I reported on camphorweed, a yellow wildflower named for the camphory scent of the tiny droplets the plant exudes. Not to be […]

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