Portraits of Wildflowers

Perspectives on Nature Photography

Heller’s plantain

with 12 comments

Click for greater clarity, especially in the small hairs.

Do you remember how the little wildflower called silverpuff is fuzzy and leans over when it first appears? Well, in central Texas we have another diminutive plant, Heller’s plantain, Plantago helleri, that’s also downy and arcs over when it’s new. I photographed this soft and curving Heller’s plantain shoot on March 27 at Pedernales Falls State Park, some 50 miles west of Austin. Cute, isn’t it?

© 2012 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

April 14, 2012 at 5:37 AM

12 Responses

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  1. Shoot! You shot a shoot – and it is a pretty one. When I was little, I often made dinner for my dolls from what we called field plantain – and then, when I lived where another kind of plantain grew, I made dinner for myself.

    But neither of those plantains was as cute as this one. Wonderful capture!


    April 14, 2012 at 6:40 AM

    • Thanks, Linda. As counterbalance to your making dinner for dolls, I’ll add that when I was a kid on Long Island, we boys would pluck a plantain from the lawn, wrap its wiry stem around the little seed head, and pull the stem quickly to shoot the head forward like a bullet. Everyone thought of that type of plantain as a lawn weed, like dandelions and clover, all of which I much later learned came to America from Europe. As far as I recall, no one even used the name plantain; it was just some weedy thing.

      As for the other and unrelated plantain, I learned to eat it in Honduras as you did in Africa. The least expensive store to buy plantain bananas in Austin is Fiesta, a chain that also exists in the Houston area, in case you’re in the market for some.

      Steve Schwartzman

      April 14, 2012 at 8:47 AM

  2. Great shot.
    You’ve captured those tiny hairs really well.
    (I’m always surprised at how many leaves and flowers actually do have fine hairs. It’s not until I see some of my own photos on the large screen that I notice them).


    April 14, 2012 at 8:34 AM

    • Thanks, Victoria. Like you, I’ve become aware of how hairy the world of nature is. I expect botanists have explored that subject, but I’ve never looked at the literature to find out the purposes that various types of hair serve

      Steve Schwartzman

      April 14, 2012 at 8:47 AM

  3. […] each little stalk of Heller’s plantain matures, it straightens up and develops flowers. I photographed this flowering Plantago helleri […]

  4. amazing shot

    H2O by Joanna

    April 14, 2012 at 2:21 PM

  5. Great shot Steve, as kids we used to do the same shooting thing with plantain seed heads also! They were great fun to play with.


    April 14, 2012 at 2:43 PM

  6. I didn’t have plantain weeds to play with in my childhood but I did have plantain (bananas) to eat. We were not encouraged to play with those.


    February 7, 2014 at 7:40 PM

    • I grew up in New York and never even heard of plantain bananas, much less ate any, till I spent 1968 and 1969 in Honduras. They’re readily available in Austin, and we buy them from time to time (often at the Fiesta supermarket where I photographed the grackle standing on one leg).

      Steve Schwartzman

      February 7, 2014 at 8:43 PM

      • I don’t see them much in our part of New Zealand but I do enjoy them when I can find them.


        February 8, 2014 at 2:17 AM

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