Portraits of Wildflowers

Perspectives on Nature Photography

Peppervine flower and buds

with 14 comments

Yesterday’s picture gave a good view of the leaves of peppervine, Ampelopsis arborea. The flowers of peppervine (and coincidentally those of the poison ivy that its leaflets somewhat resemble) are tiny and green and therefore inconspicuous. Back on July 6th in northwest Austin I photographed a cluster of the plant’s spherical buds, just one of which had opened into a flower. To give you a sense of scale: the open flower shown here was about a quarter or a third of an inch across.

Though we humans strongly favor blossoms that are large and colorful, plants overall seem to have no such preference. Flowers that we might not even notice, or shun if we do see them, are visited all the same by insects, which dutifully even if inadvertently pollinate them. Peppervine not only gets itself pollinated, but also grows strongly enough to take over swaths of ground and drive out other species. Its tendrils (visible in yesterday’s picture) allow peppervine to climb on other plants and even to ascend trees to a height of 40 ft.

For more information about Ampelopsis arborea, including a clickable map of the states where it grows (essentially the whole southeastern quadrant of the United States), you can visit the USDA website.

I took this picture at the same place where I photographed a new cedar elm leaf and two ants entombed in a drop of sunflower resin. As I mentioned in the post about the cedar elm leaf, the site is a rundown lot whose buildings have been slowly being cleared away to make room for redevelopment. Activity has picked up in the last week, and most of the structures are gone now, so the intermingled and surrounding traces of nature there probably won’t survive much longer either. (For the benefit of those in Austin who may know the place, I’ll add that the lot is on the east side of US 183, a block south of Braker Lane, adjacent to Costco and Wendy’s.)

© 2011 Steven Schwartzman


Written by Steve Schwartzman

September 9, 2011 at 6:01 AM

14 Responses

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  1. this is a wonderful portrait of another plant that I have never seen.


    September 9, 2011 at 5:19 PM

    • Tammie, meet peppervine. Peppervine, meet Tammie.

      We have hundreds of native species of plants in central Texas, and you’ll be meeting many more of them in the months to come.

      Steve Schwartzman

      September 9, 2011 at 5:33 PM

  2. How lovely of that one bud to just open for you. Like a star in a galaxy of planets.


    September 10, 2011 at 7:46 AM

    • I guess I have a way with peppervines. And I commend your imagination for seeing a single star in a galaxy of planets.

      Steve Schwartzman

      September 10, 2011 at 7:54 AM

  3. Great picture! I love the detail and the colors.


    September 10, 2011 at 11:06 PM

  4. congratulations, wonderful images!!


    September 11, 2011 at 7:38 AM

  5. We may not normally notice these types of flowers, but that makes them all the more amazing when someone brings them to our attention. Thank you for doing so 🙂

    Journey Photographic

    September 18, 2011 at 3:21 AM

  6. Love this. Special with the star flower amidst the clusters of buds.

    Bo Mackison

    September 19, 2011 at 11:43 AM

    • And so inconspicuous unless we take a really close look. I’m pleased that you appreciate it.

      Steve Schwartzman

      September 19, 2011 at 11:49 AM

  7. […] pollinated just the same. (I’ll admit to taking after myself, because I remember that I made a similar comment about peppervine back in […]

  8. […] Peppervine flowers and buds […]

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