Portraits of Wildflowers

Perspectives on Nature Photography

Clematis drummondii Swirls

with 15 comments

Clematis drummondii dénouement; click for more detail and larger size.

My online version of the New Oxford American Dictionary defines dénouement as “the final part of a play, movie, or narrative in which the strands of the plot are drawn together and matters are explained or resolved.” But in the dénouement of the Clematis drummondii narrative I’ve been spinning for the past few posts, the fertilized flowers’ strands are drawn not together but apart, where as feathery and glinting fibers they tangle and swirl and send my photographic mind swirling too.

It is this stage in the plant’s development and the drier one that follows that have earned it the colloquial name old man’s beard. But a rather small old man it is: everything you see in this view occupies just a couple of cubic inches. The green-turning-reddish object just below the center of the photograph is a seed core, with each seed attached to one of the shiny fibers that may allow it to be blown away when the core eventually loosens and all the mature seeds come undone.

© 2011 Steven Schwartzman

(For those interested in photography as an art and craft, see points 1, 8, 9, and 15 in About My Techniques.)

(You can visit the USDA website for more information about Clematis drummondii, including a map showing where the species grows.)

Written by Steve Schwartzman

July 23, 2011 at 6:00 AM

15 Responses

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  1. […] in the morning, and a few of those will make their way into this column in the days ahead. (Update: the picture posted on July 23 is one of those […]

  2. I have very much enjoyed your series on this intriguing flower. Your images are marvelous and I love the concept of following it from bud to seed.


    July 23, 2011 at 4:46 PM

    • Thank you; I’m pleased that you’ve enjoyed the series. This is indeed one of the most intriguing species we have in central Texas. I’m always excited to see the plants in their early stage because I know what is coming a few months later. Clematis drummondii can keep flowering even through the fall, though that’s less common than its proliferation in late spring and early summer.

      Steve Schwartzman

      July 23, 2011 at 5:54 PM

  3. I wonder perhaps if some plants attain a special but different beauty in their last stages of bloom for the same reason as the beauty of their flowers.


    July 23, 2011 at 11:36 PM

    • I’ve long been fascinated by the later stages in the cycle of plants. In the case of this species, I’d find it hard to predict the swirling strands based solely on the early flowers.

      Steve Schwartzman

      July 24, 2011 at 12:09 AM

  4. […] of this column—some Clematis drummondii in its “old man’s beard” stage. The picture from this year that I posted on July 23 also showed approximately the same phase, but things weren’t as far […]

  5. I have this in my garden and LOVE it!

    Robin R Robinson

    September 19, 2011 at 6:34 AM

    • Good for you: I think you’re the first person I’ve run into who has this as a garden plant.

      Steve Schwartzman

      September 19, 2011 at 7:21 AM

  6. […] masses of silky fibers it produces after its flowers get fertilized, as I’ve shown in my blog on July 23 and July 25. Not much fun for most people is giant ragweed, Ambrosia trifida, a tall and erect […]

  7. […] by the fertilized female flowers are still fresh, they can form a wonderful swirling tangle, as an early post in these pages revealed. Today’s picture shows a later stage than that, when the dried-out fibers take on a […]

  8. […] It’s probably safe to say that when we think of Spanish moss, Tillandsia usneoides, our minds emphasize the vertical dimension of this Southern plant as it hangs in long strands from the trees. Vertical our Spanish moss certainly is, but a closer look reveals that its strands can be quite dense, and in sections like this one not at all vertical. Notice the bits of green that wouldn’t be apparent from a distance. All in all, this reminds me of the flowering swirls of the unrelated Clematis drummondii that I enjoy photographing so much. (If you weren’t coming to this blog in its early days, you may want to compare the photograph that appeared last July). […]

  9. […] newly formed, as you can see from its pale green color. You also begin to see the resemblance to the much more common species in central Texas, Clematis drummondii, even if the leatherflower’s strands seem uninterestingly simple by […]

  10. […] try, but Clematis drummondii doesn’t produce […]

  11. […] If you’d like a much closer look at the chaotic complexity of these bundles of fibers, you can check out a post from three years ago. […]

    Cd | Portraits of Wildflowers

    September 1, 2014 at 6:00 AM

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