Portraits of Wildflowers

Perspectives on Nature Photography

Archive for December 6th, 2011

White prickly poppy

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When I was on the noisy embankment of the US 183 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 photographed this white prickly poppy, Argemone albiflora. In fact I’d come to the embankment for it, having been surprised to see the plant’s delicate white petals when I drove past on the highway earlier in the morning. I say “surprised” because this is normally a spring-blooming species, but apparently the recent bit of rain and the warm temperatures fooled the plant into thinking it was spring again.

This view looks into the center of the flower, and if you’ve ever wanted a picture to symbolize matriarchy, here is it, with one velvety dark red female stigma rising above a subservient retinue of male stamens (that coincidentally are of the same yellow-orange color as the nearby buffalo gourd flowers). To give you a sense of scale, I’ll say that the globe of stamens was about an inch across. Note the faint smudges of yellow pollen on the rippled white petal in back and also the spines on the plant’s leaves below; not for nothing is this plant called white prickly poppy.

For more information about Argemone albiflora, including a state-clickable map showing where the species grows, you can visit the USDA website.

© 2011 Steven Schwartzman

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Written by Steve Schwartzman

December 6, 2011 at 5:11 AM

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