Portraits of Wildflowers

Perspectives on Nature Photography

Archive for December 8th, 2011

Deadly fruit

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One last thing I’ll show you that I found on the embankment of the US 183 freeway in northwest Austin on December 1 is the drying fruit of silveleaf nightshade, Solanum elaeagnifolium, a plant whose bud and flower appeared in October posts highlighting the prairie restoration at the Elisabet Ney Museum. This species, like purple bindweed, is one of the hardiest and most widely distributed wildflowers in Austin and similarly has a bloom period that covers all but the coldest months of the year. Even after an individual silverleaf nightshade plant has stopped flowering, its fruits typically persist for months. The one shown here—which if it weren’t less than an inch in diameter could almost pass for some sort of orange—has just begun the characteristic shriveling that often continues through the winter. Unlike an orange, though, silverleaf nightshade is poisonous to people. The highlights on this small fruit make it look as if I used flash, but I didn’t; what you see is the natural shine of the fruit’s surface, even on a cloudy day.

For more information about Solanum elaeagnifolium, including a clickable map showing the many places in the United States where this plant grows, you can visit the USDA websiste.

© 2011 Steven Schwartzman

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Written by Steve Schwartzman

December 8, 2011 at 5:04 AM

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