Portraits of Wildflowers

Perspectives on Nature Photography

Archive for December 2nd, 2011

A planetary orb comes down to earth

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No, we haven’t switched to astronomy. This isn’t the lunar surface, nor is it the surface of some planet circling another sun. Drop the e from planet and you’ll be in the right realm. Here you see the drying fruit of a plant that botanists classify as Cucurbita foetidissima and that people in these parts call buffalo gourd; today’s picture shows one of those approximately spherical gourds. Other buffalo gourd gourds in the vicinity were still green or had matured to yellow, but this one had largely dried out and weighed much less than its groundmates. That last word is an accurate description, because this vine crawls along the ground; foetidissima is also accurate, given the plant’s strong and unpleasant smell that has earned it the vernacular name stinking gourd.

I took this picture on November 17 on the embankment of Loop 360 adjacent to the Arboretum in northwest Austin. For more information about Cucurbita foetidissima, including a state-clickable map showing the many places where this species grows, you can visit the USDA website.

© 2011 Steven Schwartzman

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Written by Steve Schwartzman

December 2, 2011 at 5:03 AM

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