On February 21st, for the first time in maybe half a year, I went out to the sumpy place on the Blackland Prairie in northeast Austin where I found so many things to photograph in the late spring of 2011.* Even in this winter-turned-spring of 2012, February 21st proved too early for me to find any native wildflowers there, but hardly had I started walking when I came across the formation that you see in today’s photograph. It was a young poverty weed, Baccharis neglecta, a species that has figured several times in these pages. What was unusual, though, was the deformation, in this case a spiral, that had beset it and that botanists call fasciation. (You can read more about the phenomenon in a post from last year, where the afflicted plant was a Liatris mucronata. You can also see an afflicted firewheel, the type of flower that appeared most recently in this blog a couple of weeks ago.) From the way certain ferns look when they unfurl, I borrowed the term fiddlehead for today’s alliterative title (and of course that name for the ferns had been inspired by the scrolls in which the necks of violins end, so this is a double borrowing).
* If you’d like a reminder of some of those things, or if you weren’t visiting this blog last spring, here are a few of them:
© 2012 Steven Schwartzman