Portraits of Wildflowers

Perspectives on Nature Photography

Upstairs, downstairs

with 18 comments

Click for greater clarity.

The last four posts have dealt with the mustang grape vine, Vitis mustangensis. Here you see that its leaves have an upper surface that’s a shiny bright green interspersed with traces of white-haired wispiness. Based on this view of the upper surface, can you imagine what the underside is like?

To find out how reality matches up with what you’ve imagined, click the tiny icon at the beginning of the next line and you’ll see the lower surface of a mustang grape leaf.

For more information about Vitis mustangensis and to see a state-clickable map of the places where it grows, you can visit the USDA website.

© 2012 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

January 23, 2012 at 5:11 AM

18 Responses

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  1. I love the detail and texture!


    January 23, 2012 at 5:29 AM

  2. Nice texture.


    January 23, 2012 at 5:40 AM

    • Since the first two comments mentioned texture, the etymologist in me will add that the Latin word textura meant ‘a web, a weaving, a structure.” We wouldn’t normally think of it this way, but leaves are among nature’s “textiles.”

      Steve Schwartzman

      January 23, 2012 at 8:01 AM

  3. Great details, loved the title! 🙂


    January 23, 2012 at 9:03 AM

    • Thank you. When I don’t use a straightforward botanical title, I sometimes try to find one that has associations with other things in our lives: proverbs, literature, music, etc.

      Steve Schwartzman

      January 23, 2012 at 9:14 AM

  4. Nicely felted! Is it as soft as it looks? ~ Lynda


    January 23, 2012 at 9:15 AM

    • I’m glad you felt that way, Lynda. Yes, the lower surface is soft, but the leaf isn’t all that thick, so there’s not as much tactile pleasure in touching the underside as there is in touching the leaves of our fuzziest native plants.

      Steve Schwartzman

      January 23, 2012 at 9:35 AM

  5. Cool close up of the grape leaf; looks very hairy. Is this for water retention? Nice shots as always, Steve.


    January 23, 2012 at 1:21 PM

    • I’m afraid I don’t know why the lower surface of a mustang grape leaf is so downy, but I’m glad it is.

      Steve Schwartzman

      January 23, 2012 at 5:07 PM

  6. Very cool…the detail you captured is amazing!!! Love the title also!


    January 23, 2012 at 2:39 PM

  7. Yes, Downy is exactly the right word. A pretty leaf on *both* sides.


    January 23, 2012 at 9:43 PM

    • If there has to be a downside, let it be a downy downside. But you’ve doubled your pleasure in finding no downside to the upper side.

      Steve Schwartzman

      January 23, 2012 at 10:40 PM

      • Smarty-pants. 🙂


        January 24, 2012 at 11:43 AM

      • Now I’ll have to add that the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center website has a feature called “Ask Mr. Smarty Plants,” in which people submit questions about native plants.

        Steve Schwartzman

        January 24, 2012 at 10:02 PM

  8. The intricacy of leaf-structure is amazing. Looking at your photos, I sometimes wonder if plants develop characteristics just for fun. It certainly doesn’t look like everything is functional.

    When I saw your title, I went back a bit farther in time, to the late 1700s, and a favorite nursery rhyme from my childhood:
    Goose-a goose-a gander, Where shall I wander?
    Up stairs and down stairs, In my lady’s chamber;
    There you’ll find a cup of sack And a race of ginger.


    January 24, 2012 at 11:08 PM

    • Like Suzanne, you got me on your wavelength: I’d considered some sort of parallel to or parody of “in my lady’s chamber,” but I thought that probably most readers wouldn’t get the reference. And in light of your comment on my language blog, I’ll add that the version of this nursery rhyme that’s in my head begins “Goosy goosy gander.” It must have been a dog-eat-dog world among rival nursery rhyme promoters in the 1700s.

      I like your speculation about plants doing things just for fun. I wonder if anyone can come up with a clever way to test that hypothesis.

      Steve Schwartzman

      January 25, 2012 at 9:05 AM

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