Portraits of Wildflowers

Perspectives on Nature Photography

Greenbrier in autumn, part 3

with 25 comments

The picture in the previous post revealed how colorful greenbrier can become in the fall, but that closeup didn’t let you see an entire leaf, so I’m adding this view that does. Note some common features of greenbrier leaves: the small prickles on the perimeter, the irregular light-colored patches in the interior, and the overall lobed shape. Though that shape can be a conventionalized heart, it’s safe to say that only someone with the most prickly of personalities would give this plant as a Valentine.

For those interested in the technical side of photography, I’ll add that because greenbrier leaves are curved surfaces, I was surprised to be able to get almost all of this leaf in focus at an aperture as wide as f/5. I’ll also add that greenbrier leaves have a somewhat shiny coating that can show up as a distracting sheen in photographs of them, but I managed to avoid that here.

This picture, like the last one, comes from the partly sunny afternoon of December 17 in the relatively new “panhandle” of St. Edward’s Park that’s on the east side of Spicewood Springs Rd. in my part of Austin. For more information, including a state-clickable map showing the places in the southeastern United States where Smilax bona-nox grows, you can visit the USDA website.

© 2011 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

December 20, 2011 at 5:10 AM

25 Responses

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  1. Thank you for sharing this plant in a series of three images – it certainly is worthy of the detailed attention.


    December 20, 2011 at 7:03 AM

    • You’re welcome, Dawn. There’s one more view to come, and it’ll be simultaneously the brightest and darkest of all.

      Steve Schwartzman

      December 20, 2011 at 7:08 AM

  2. I like that you show nature in various stages of her majesty. And one leaf can tell us so much, as this one does. Thanks Steve, Sally

    Sally W. Donatello

    December 20, 2011 at 7:33 AM

    • I’m glad you like that approach, Sally. I do it from time to time, then go back to consecutive variety. In January and February, when things get bleak even this far south, I may fill in with different views and stages of some of the species I’ve already featured.

      Steve Schwartzman

      December 20, 2011 at 8:02 AM

  3. I really enjoyed this! I love having so much information both about this amazing looking leaf and about the technical side of your shot! Lovely photo

    mimo khair

    December 20, 2011 at 10:07 AM

    • I’m pleased that you enjoyed it, Mimo. A longtime teacher inhabits the same body as the photographer; the former doesn’t usually let the latter get away with posting an image without at least some botanical and/or photographic commentary.

      Steve Schwartzman

      December 20, 2011 at 10:23 AM

  4. This is a wonderful photograph… how nice to see them like that… Thank you for all these deetails as always they capture me… Thank you, with my love, nia


    December 20, 2011 at 10:42 AM

  5. I just ran through the entire three-post greenbrier series. Very interesting.

    When I hear the term “greenbrier” the first thing that pops into my head is the section of Great Smoky Mountains National Park that bears that name. The irony is that, according the USDA map you linked, there’s no greenbrier in Greenbrier (Sevier County, Tennessee).


    December 20, 2011 at 2:00 PM

    • I didn’t know that there was a section of Great Smoky Mountains National Park with that name, but I do remember, on the one afternoon of my life that I spent in West Virginia, in around 1975, taking black and white infrared pictures along the Greenbrier River there.

      Steve Schwartzman

      December 20, 2011 at 4:32 PM

  6. This photo is amazing! Such beautiful colors – and shape…. Did you see my heart leaf:
    I’m glad you showed me the door to your photos – so I made a link to your blog in my blogroll, hope it’s OK with you?!
    Merry Christmas!


    December 20, 2011 at 6:59 PM

    • Thank you several times, one being for giving the link to your heart leaf, which I hadn’t seen; what a nice harmony between the two pictures. And of course it’s all right to add this site to your blogroll; I’m always happy to open the door to the native plants of Texas.

      Glædelig Jul.

      Steve Schwartzman

      December 20, 2011 at 7:59 PM

      • Glædelig jul! – to you too – or in Danish: til dig også. Do you have Danish roots?!


        December 21, 2011 at 6:16 PM

      • No, I have no Danish roots, but I’m interested in languages. Glædelig is so much like English gladly, and English has borrowed Yule from Scandinavian.

        Steve Schwartzman

        December 21, 2011 at 6:48 PM

  7. It looks like a butterfly.


    December 21, 2011 at 4:25 AM

  8. Another great macro/close-up, Steve! You certainly have a wonderful ability to capture these wild plants in ways that are both interesting and informative. Like art-meets-science. Thanks for sharing your work with us. Cheers!


    December 21, 2011 at 10:36 PM

  9. […] trees, but the often lowly though much-scorned and much-feared poison ivy, like the skin-rending greenbrier, gets to play the game […]

  10. […] leaves, as you saw more closely two posts ago, are from the rattan, while the red ones are from a greenbrier vine that had joined the tangle. I found this mass of vines and year-end color on December 17 in the […]

  11. Yes, I see you, too, are fascinated by the leaf shapes, the colors, the tendrils and thorns of the greenbrier. There must be regional variations, or perhaps this is a different variety, because my local Oklahoma greenbrier leaves are much more the classical heart shape. I am enjoying your photos.


    January 18, 2012 at 7:54 AM

    • Yes, all parts of the plant have their photographic appeal for me (but I’ve often enough paid the price over the years). Even here in Austin I’ve noticed a fair amount of variation in greenbrier leaf shape.

      I’m glad you’re enjoying these pictures.

      Steve Schwartzman

      January 18, 2012 at 8:13 AM

  12. […] that has managed to catch hold of the goldeneye and seems to be straining back to reel it in is a greenbrier vine, Smilax […]

  13. […] The locals call this plant Saw Vine, but it goes by Cat Briar, greenbrier vine, or its botanical name of Smilax bona-nox.  To see where it grows look […]

  14. […] a thinly encased twig of an elbowbush, and now here’s some more-extreme ice at the tip of a greenbrier leaf, Smilax bona-nox. The vertical stripes in this column of ice remind me of similar though […]

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