Portraits of Wildflowers

Perspectives on Nature Photography

Mikania scandens

with 7 comments

If most people in Texas are surprised to learn that there’s a local member of the sunflower family that’s a willowy tree, they’re equally surprised to find out there’s a member of the sunflower family here that’s a vine. If it’s any consolation, and with deference to The Way Things Are Supposed To Be, in neither case do the blossoms of those two species pretend to look like sunflowers. Shown here is the vine, Mikania scandens, called climbing hempvine and climbing hempweed. This one was flowering as it did its climbing on a cattail alongside a pond in northeast Austin on August 11; the photograph is from the same session that produced the minimalist picture of a bulrush leaf turning colors.

For more information about Mikania scandens, including a state-clickable map showing the many places in eastern North America where this species grows, you can visit the USDA website.

© 2011 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

November 7, 2011 at 5:11 AM

7 Responses

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  1. I love this photo.. it’s such a pretty flower, delicate with its spinning vine and petals. I also love how knowledgeable you are about such things… where did you learn all of this?

    Just A Smidgen

    November 7, 2011 at 7:50 AM

    • Thanks, Barb. Only in the last few months have I begun to run across this species a fair amount. Maybe it’s having a good year, or maybe I’ve become more attuned to it now.

      To answer your question: I’ve been photographing the native plants of my area for 12 years, with varying intensity, and over that time I’ve kept reading about these plants and talking to people who know a lot more about them than I do. I wish now that I’d taken at least an introductory botany course in college.

      Steve Schwartzman

      November 7, 2011 at 9:48 AM

  2. […] scandens means ‘climbing,’ and this Mikania scandens—the flowering vine that you saw a closeup of last time—is doing its climbing on a hapless young black willow tree, Salix nigra. Call this a […]

  3. […] now call Ageratina havanensis. This is another member of the sunflower family that, like the climbing hempvine of the last two posts and the blue mistflower shown a few weeks ago, has flowers that don’t […]

  4. Is it my eyes, or is the flower form of Mikania s. similar to the Jimson Weed’s flower form? ~ Lynda


    November 9, 2011 at 6:23 AM

    • Jimsonweed has individual bell-shaped flowers, while those of Mikania scandens are packed together in the typical fashion of composites (i.e. sunflower family), and have more the overall shape of elongated cylinders. That cylindrical shape probably reminds you of the long buds of jimsonweed, from which the opened flowers are so different.

      Steve Schwartzman

      November 9, 2011 at 6:39 AM

  5. […] in the Asteraceae produce flowers that don’t look like daisies or sunflowers (for example climbing hempvine, marsh fleabane, shrubby boneset, purple mistflower, and poverty weed). Enough already, you say? […]

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