Portraits of Wildflowers

Perspectives on Nature Photography

Visitors to Tetraneuris scaposa

with 32 comments

The other day you saw Tetraneuris linearifolia, one of two very similar species that share the vernacular name four-nerve daisy. Today’s picture shows the other species, Tetraneuris scaposa, and it shows that I was hardly the only one visiting it on the afternoon of February 15 in northwest Austin. If you’ve been checking this blog for a while, you’ve often heard me talk about how I sit and lie on the ground: those low vantage points reveal a lot that would go unnoticed if I were standing up and looking down at my subjects. In particular, a lot of insects hang out underneath flowers, and so do the spiders that stalk them. I’m assuming that the green insects are aphids; in addition to the two larger ones, there are several smaller ones that are harder to see. As for the spider, notice the net-like patterning on its abdomen and how long its legs are. After looking at several sources, I’m thinking that this is a spider in the genus Tetragnatha, but if anyone can be more precise, please let us know. (Update on Feb. 28: Spider Joe Lapp says that this is likely to be Tetragnatha laboriosa; from a different picture I sent him of the spider he was able to tell that it’s a male.)

As for the four-nerve daisy, if you look at the rays in the 1 o’clock and 5 o’clock positions, you can count the four “nerves” that give these flowers their common name. I don’t know what caused the reddish area on the ray at the upper right. I do know that the downiness covering the stalk and the receptacle of the flower head is a prominent characteristic of both of these Tetraneuris species (and we recently saw a similar fuzz on silverpuff, their not-so-close sunflower family relative). For more information, and to see a state-clickable map of the places where Tetraneuris scaposa grows, you can visit the USDA website.

On the technical side, it may look like I used flash for this picture, but I didn’t. Yellow is a difficult color to photograph in bright sunlight, which was the case here, and in exposing for the intense brightness of the yellow rays I ended up with a background that is close to black. For that and other photographic considerations, you can see points 1, 3, 4, 10, and 18 in About My Techniques.

© 2012 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

February 21, 2012 at 5:40 AM

32 Responses

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  1. Great find!


    February 21, 2012 at 6:08 AM

  2. But I love the dark background! I know, I love the blue too!

    Bonnie Michelle

    February 21, 2012 at 6:28 AM

  3. What a great picture, a moment in time captured to last. Beautiful colors and details as always. 🙂

    Spiral Dreamer (Francis)

    February 21, 2012 at 10:55 AM

  4. Lovely! I suspect that by summer’s end this bronzed beauty will no longer be so svelte. As to a definitive type for the lady, well, I haven’t a clue, but the little green insects are aphids to be sure! ~ Lynda

    Smaller = white specks on stem below the Lady???


    February 21, 2012 at 2:47 PM

    • The smaller aphids are also a light green; you can see one way over on the left edge of the flower base, and some others are lost in the shadows on the right side. It’s easier to see them in the original photograph, which is much larger than the ones I post here.

      As for svelteness, my impression from looking at photographs on the Internet is that this type of spider keeps its elongated shape, but I wish I knew for sure what species it is.

      Steve Schwartzman

      February 21, 2012 at 2:59 PM

  5. Steve, My favorite type of flower shot, one showing the other life that appreciates those flowers! Nice shot 🙂 ~Kyle


    February 21, 2012 at 6:59 PM

    • That’s a good way to put it, Kyle: “the other life that appreciates those flowers”—even if it’s a very different sort of appreciation.

      Steve Schwartzman

      February 21, 2012 at 9:04 PM

  6. […] Another precocious wildflower I found on February 19 at the Mueller Greenway in east-central Austin was Gaillardia pulchella, known by the picturesque names Indian blanket and firewheel (and I’ll add that this firewheel, or at least the ground beneath it where I knelt, was pique-turesque and cost me my first two fire ant bites of 2012). The flower head was just opening—and doing so a good month or two before its traditional time—but hadn’t yet formed the familiar “wheel” whose wide rays, which are mostly red and tipped with yellow, form the “spokes.” At this stage you can recognize a family resemblance to the rays of a four-nerve daisy. […]

  7. Soon I’ll be on the hunt for the Lakeside Daisy, a plant that for all intents and purposes is extinct here but which does still exist in specimens at the Chicago Botanic Garden. I mention it here because it is also (now) called the 4 nerve daisy, although not the same one you are describing. I used to have the Latin name memorized but it hardly matters, as the name has been changed and I need to memorize a whole new name. At any rate…. a planned burn failed to happen last season, and the specimens didn’t show.

    It is interesting how many of your plants are coming out so early.
    Also, thank for the tip on capturing yellow. I really struggle with this!


    February 23, 2012 at 11:53 AM

    • I looked up your lakeside daisy and it seems to be Tetraneuris acaulis, so it is a relative of both of the four-nerve daisies here (all three species used to be classified in the genus Hymenoxys, it seems). Happy hunting for yours.

      Yes, it’s full-fledged spring here. Hooray!

      With yellow, by the way, I sometimes take several pictures at different exposures. I also always shoot in RAW mode, so I have some latitude to make adjustments afterwards.

      Steve Schwartzman

      February 23, 2012 at 12:13 PM

      • yes, that’s it!
        I really appreciate the insight into photographic technique you share~ I often try several exposures also but often feel like I am just floundering. My camera really doesn’t like small detail. Since I’m using my photos for reference only, I sometimes resort to putting my hand behind the detail I am trying to capture. I miss my old Minolta… I could get that thing to do anything. Still, digital is great fun.
        Happy Spring!


        February 23, 2012 at 12:39 PM

  8. Odds are Tetragnatha laboriosa, but can’t be sure without seeing the underside. Love that you have a Tetra on a Tetra!

    Spider Lapp

    February 27, 2012 at 10:01 PM

    • That was supposed to be “Spider Joe” not “Spider Lapp.” LOVED your presentation tonight!

      Spider Joe

      February 27, 2012 at 10:02 PM

    • Good observation about the Tetra on a Tetra! I saw pictures online of Tetragnatha laboriosa, but I still wasn’t sure. I’ll have to see if any of the other pictures I took show the underside.

      Steve Schwartzman

      February 27, 2012 at 10:50 PM

  9. […] Tetraneuris scaposa bud opening on February 15 in northwest Austin: this is a minimalist and more sinuous take than the […]

  10. Lovely photo and I am admiring your ability to photograph from that angle.


    April 29, 2014 at 5:51 AM

    • I spend a fair amount of my time kneeling, sitting, and even lying on the ground to take pictures. Where the plants and little critters are, so go I.

      Steve Schwartzman

      April 29, 2014 at 6:23 AM

      • You are lucky to be able to do that. I can get down on the ground. The problem is getting up.


        April 29, 2014 at 6:28 AM

        • Rising is less easy than it once was, but that hasn’t prevented me from doing what I want. Let’s hope things stay that way.

          Steve Schwartzman

          April 29, 2014 at 6:36 AM

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