Portraits of Wildflowers

Perspectives on Nature Photography

A planetary orb comes down to earth

with 11 comments

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

Written by Steve Schwartzman

December 2, 2011 at 5:03 AM

11 Responses

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  1. I’m really enjoying your comparison with a planetary body 🙂


    December 2, 2011 at 8:01 AM

    • I can’t remember if I saw the gourd that way at the time, but when I looked at the picture on my computer screen I was immediately reminded of photographs I’ve seen of the moon.

      Steve Schwartzman

      December 2, 2011 at 8:06 AM

  2. It really does look like a moon or planet; great capture!! Love the colours and shapes on this gourd. Cheers!


    December 2, 2011 at 9:15 AM

  3. I am drawn to the yin/yang of the beiges against the textures of the surface, and I like that it is unrecognizable. The unknown allows for a different way of seeing, Sally


    December 2, 2011 at 11:01 AM

    • Thanks for your insights about the yin/yang, Sally, which I wouldn’t have noticed. I like your adage that “The unknown allows for a different way of seeing.”

      Steve Schwartzman

      December 2, 2011 at 11:19 AM

  4. Really a great capture here. It does look like it belongs on another planet or moon. 🙂


    December 2, 2011 at 3:38 PM

  5. […] picture of a drying buffalo gourd fruit, taken on November 17, came from an embankment of Capital of Texas Highway adjacent to the […]

  6. If the Buffalo Gals come out tonight, I don’t think they’ll be dancing by the light of this moon, even though it certainly does look like the lunar surface.


    June 15, 2020 at 8:22 AM

    • You did well to connect the gourd to the song, which I haven’t heard in a while—probably the last time I watched “It’s a Wonderful Life”:

      Steve Schwartzman

      June 15, 2020 at 2:33 PM

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