Portraits of Wildflowers

Perspectives on Nature Photography

Archive for January 10th, 2012

Seasonal color from rattan

with 21 comments

A few weeks ago I reported that fall color had suddenly descended on Austin. At that time I showed you the yellow leaves of cedar elm, and now I’ll add the orange leaves of rattan, Berchemia scandens, that I photographed in my neighborhood on December 16. In this case, instead of speaking of color that descended I should say ascended, because this woody vine that abounds in the woods of Austin can and does climb way up into the forest canopy, and it’s strong enough in its winding ascent to strangle a tree. Rattan does its strangling throughout the year, but at least in December and early January it does so to an accompaniment of pretty colors. I doubt whether those colors are any consolation to the tree being strangled, but our human eyes are happy enough to see the warmly colored rattan leaves.

To learn more about the formidable rattan vine, and to see a state-clickable map showing the places in the southeastern United States where it does its woody twining and strangling, you can visit the USDA website. One place where Berchemia scandens is thoroughly at home is Alabama, which I mention because another name for this vine is Alabama supple-jack (though people in Texas are inclined to drop the Alabama part of that name).

© 2012 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

January 10, 2012 at 5:10 AM

%d bloggers like this: