Portraits of Wildflowers

Perspectives on Nature Photography

Buffalo gourd flower

with 13 comments

Buffalo gourd flower; click for greater detail.

Yesterday’s picture of a drying buffalo gourd fruit, taken on November 17, came from an embankment of Capital of Texas Highway adjacent to the Arboretum in northwest Austin. I took today’s photograph on December 1 on another embankment almost within sight of the first, this time along the even busier (and I can confirm a lot noisier) US 183 freeway adjacent to the Gateway Shopping Center. Cucurbita foetidissima likes to hang out in places like these, which is where local residents are most likely to see it—assuming anyone can see much of anything when the ground outside is going by at 60 mph.

In spite of the bad smell that has earned this species the derogatory name stinking gourd, its plush yellow-orange flowers are quite attractive. For more information about Cucurbita foetidissima, including a state-clickable map showing the many places where this plant grows, you can visit the USDA website.

© 2011 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

December 3, 2011 at 4:59 AM

13 Responses

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  1. What a beautiful, intense yellow orange, perfect for my gray day here in MA…and as the only smell is of my morning coffee, all is well. I love the thickness and texture of the petals.


    December 3, 2011 at 6:46 AM

    • What a coincidence: it’s the second gray and wet day here in Austin, and I just made some Saturday morning coffee to sit down at the computer with and answer messages. I’m sorry I can’t convey the touch of the flower’s texture over the Internet, but the next time you visit we’ll look for some of these flowers.

      Steve Schwartzman

      December 3, 2011 at 8:41 AM

  2. I see a fist in the center bit of the flower. I love that it appears to be soft and fuzzy.


    December 3, 2011 at 7:24 AM

    • I saw the fist in the center too, and I was debating whether to use a closer photograph showing it framed with only the inner part of the petals, or to use an overall picture. You can see that I went with the overall picture so people would know what the flower looks like.

      Steve Schwartzman

      December 3, 2011 at 8:46 AM

  3. Thank you, Steve, for sending some orange cheer my way. And thanks for journeying to Grand Prismatic Springs with me. Yellowstone is so alive now after the great fires. It was a harsh scene at first but it’s been great to see the ecosystem rebound, such lush forage, thick groves of skinny lodgepole. . . I think an abstract view of extremophiles sounds great.


    December 3, 2011 at 10:20 AM

    • You’re welcome for the orange cheer—and that makes me think that you might do well to have in your home an orange chair for orange cheer all the time.

      Another place that intrigued me when I was in Wyoming in the late ’90s, and one much less well known than Yellowstone, was Thermopolis, which also had pretty mineral formations.

      Steve Schwartzman

      December 3, 2011 at 10:37 AM

  4. […] last post post showed a buffalo gourd flower on the noisy embankment of the US 183 freeway adjacent to the Gateway Shopping Center in my […]

  5. […] a closeup of a buffalo gourd flower. This is not just an enlargement of the central portion of yesterday’s photograph, but a separate picture taken more closely and with the camera’s flash turned on so I could […]

  6. Very nice shot Steven! Your macro work is excellent!! Cheers!


    December 4, 2011 at 3:02 PM

  7. […] freeway adjacent to the Gateway Shopping Center in Austin on December 1 taking the pictures of the buffalo gourd flower and tendrils and the purple bindweed flower you’ve seen in the last few posts, I also […]

  8. Some of the really pretty flowers that I took this summer were of the winter squash, which is what I thought your picture was!

    Surprisingly, I didn’t post any of them. When I do, I’ll have to send you the link.


    December 10, 2011 at 12:48 PM

    • And my reaction was the reverse. Not being a vegetable gardener, and being familiar with buffalo gourd flowers for years, I was surprised when I first saw pictures of squash blossoms. Both plants are in the genus Cucurbita, so there should indeed be a family resemblance.

      Steve Schwartzman

      December 10, 2011 at 3:44 PM

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