Portraits of Wildflowers

Perspectives on Nature Photography

An earlier and moodier globe

with 8 comments

Following the previous post about buttonbush (Cephalanthus occidentalis), here’s what one of its flower globes looks like in its formative stage. This globe was on the same buttonbush—which really is a bush, and often grows taller than a person—as the fully flowering one shown yesterday. It was overshadowed (not figuratively, as we usually use the word, but literally) when the sun briefly went behind a cloud; I aimed horizontally at nearby foliage, and the resulting photograph has quite a different feel and tonality from the image of the side-lit, fully flowering globe shown last time.

Speaking of equivalents, a term I appropriated from Alfred Stieglitz for my own purposes: the way the buds are packed around the surface of this buttonbush sphere reminds me of the way the buds of green lily (Schoenocaulon texanum) fit into that plant’s differently shaped surface, which we might describe as a gradually tapering cylinder.

(Visit the USDA website for more information about Cephalanthus occidentalis, including a clickable map showing the locations where the species grows; that turns out to be more than the whole eastern half of the U.S.)

© 2011 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

August 10, 2011 at 5:41 AM

8 Responses

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  1. What an amazingly beautiful bud (superbly photographed)! I am learning a lot about Texan botany from your blog – thank you very much!


    August 10, 2011 at 7:22 AM

    • Thanks, Rowan. There are a lot of fascinating plants to see in Texas. Because you’re in England (I believe), the only place you’re likely to see a buttonbush is in a botanical garden—or you can take a trip to Texas.

      Steve Schwartzman

      August 10, 2011 at 8:08 AM

  2. You may laugh, but I live near the water and the shape of the buds reminds me of a colony of barnacles.

    Nature is clever – using successful shapes for many purposes – even crossing kingdoms.


    August 10, 2011 at 7:52 AM

  3. Oh I love this one! Beautiful bud and photograph. ~Pam

    Rose Ribbon

    August 12, 2011 at 1:23 AM

  4. This is incredible – such an amazing structure, and well photographed!

    Journey Photographic

    August 17, 2011 at 6:36 AM

    • Why, thank you. Structures are intriguing, whether natural, as here, or created by people, as the architectural ones that you enjoy photographing. And some architectural elements, like the ancient Greek columns and their capitals, were inspired by plants.

      Steve Schwartzman

      August 17, 2011 at 7:02 AM

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