Portraits of Wildflowers

Perspectives on Nature Photography

Red, white

with 28 comments

The last two posts have presented what is either Chamaesyce hypericifolia or Chamaesyce nutans. Yesterday you saw a detailed view of the plant’s richly colored fruits. Today, concluding this three-part weed-dispelling series, I’d like to show you a closeup of one of the plant’s stems. Like so many members of the Euphorbiaceae or spurge family, this one has in it a white latex that emerges when the plant is bent, crushed, or broken. Not the milk of human kindness for those whose sensitive skin reacts to it, that latex, coolly white here against the dominant red of the stalk that it’s on and of others behind, is a drop that the minimalist photographer readily drinks in.

Today’s little adventure in red and white comes to you once again from the Mueller Greenway, a piece of the Blackland Prairie being restored on the east side of Austin. For more information about Chamaesyce hypericifolia, and to see a state-clickable map of the places across the southern United States where this species grows, you can visit the USDA website.

© 2012 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

January 27, 2012 at 5:18 AM

28 Responses

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  1. Very nice! The white drop on the red branch is definitely manna for the photographically-minded.

    Journey Photographic

    January 27, 2012 at 6:04 AM

  2. Is it coincidence or planned intention that your photos complement the holidays? I just purchased a pot of red flowers for Valentine’s Day . . .

    Bonnie Michelle

    January 27, 2012 at 7:05 AM

    • I took the Chamaesyce pictures in mid-November and kept delaying my posts about them. Publishing them now, when some stores are pushing red for Valentine’s Day, was just coincidental. On a few occasions I’ve synchronized a post to a certain day. For example, on July 4 last year I used my birthday as a pretext to show a picture that had human elements in it, something I don’t normally do. And on New Year’s Day I featured some of the strange search criteria that had accumulated during the previous year.

      Steve Schwartzman

      January 27, 2012 at 8:00 AM

  3. Very vivid!


    January 27, 2012 at 7:14 AM

  4. it looks for all the world like it’s growing a baby tooth.


    January 27, 2012 at 7:32 AM

    • Now that’s an association I would never have made, even though I must have grown baby teeth myself.

      Steve Schwartzman

      January 27, 2012 at 8:50 AM

  5. Very nice capture and interesting info.

    BoJo Photo

    January 27, 2012 at 7:39 AM

  6. And a grand finale to your brilliant series!

    Susan Scheid

    January 27, 2012 at 10:36 AM

  7. I actually expected you to tell us that it was a scale insect of some type, but of course, now that you have explained it I can see the difference. I guess it was the shape, and the proximity to the little black speck that fooled my eye. ~ Lynda

    For inquiring minds, the information on these plant suckers can be found here: http://edis.ifas.ufl.edu/mg005


    January 27, 2012 at 11:51 AM

    • I’ve read a little about, and been intrigued by, scale insects; thanks for the informative link you provided. I can see why you would initially have seen the white the way you did. Being familiar with plants in this family, I knew right away that I was seeing latex, which in this case had partially congealed. Speaking of that: the trees from which rubber is extracted are also members of the Euphorbiaceae.

      Steve Schwartzman

      January 27, 2012 at 12:57 PM

  8. I don’t know what color(s) chicle has when emergent, but this latex looks to me remarkably like some passing gnome stuck his chewing gum on the stem as he passed by on a truant meander.


    January 27, 2012 at 12:02 PM

    • Good imagination again, Kathryn (hardly a surprise). I looked up chicle, the substance used in chewing gum, to see if it too might come from a member of the Euphorbiacea, but it doesn’t. As for meandering, I’ll plead guilty, but not to the truancy part.

      Steve Schwartzman

      January 27, 2012 at 1:18 PM

  9. Amazing color Steven!
    Those red-pink tones are beautiful.
    Nicely composed.

    Pablo Buitrago

    January 27, 2012 at 3:44 PM

    • Through my viewfinder I lived vicariously for a little while in that magical world of red; it was quite an experience.

      Steve Schwartzman

      January 27, 2012 at 4:03 PM

  10. jolies couleurs dans ce détail.


    January 27, 2012 at 4:52 PM

  11. Love this close-up


    January 28, 2012 at 11:59 AM

    • As a photographer, you can re-create the excitement I felt when I first saw this through the viewfinder.

      Steve Schwartzman

      January 28, 2012 at 12:20 PM

  12. I wondered if this latex might be related to the white, sticky substance that drips from my ficus when I trim it – and indeed, it is. As you noted, people can be allergic to it, but I didn’t realize that it can be fatal if taken internally. Why someone would do that I’m not sure, but impulsive curiosity seems the most likely reason.


    January 28, 2012 at 1:27 PM

    • And “impulsive curiosity” is an attribute of children, some of whom might be young enough to think the latex is real milk.

      Steve Schwartzman

      January 28, 2012 at 1:31 PM

  13. What represent this photo ? in any case, it’s a beautiful photo !


    January 11, 2013 at 2:45 PM

    • It’s an abstract view of the stalk of a plant in the spurge family, in the genus Chamaesyce. You can check the text above for more details.

      Steve Schwartzman

      January 11, 2013 at 7:16 PM

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