Portraits of Wildflowers

Perspectives on Nature Photography

A green flower

with 18 comments

Click for greater clarity.

Green is above all the color of chlorophyll—a term made up from two Greek roots meaning green leaf—so it’s relatively rare for plants to have flowers of that color as well. Continuing with relative rarity, I’ll add that the green flower shown here belongs to Matelea edwardsensis, a species that grows natively in the Edwards Plateau of central Texas and nowhere else in the world. Like the recently encountered bush sunflower, this is also a species I’d been seeing for 13 years in Marshall Enquist’s Wildflowers of the Texas Hill Country but finally found for the first time this spring. In the case of the Matelea edwardsensis, the encounter took place on April 7 during a field trip to Bright Leaf Preserve on the west side of Austin. Called plateau milkvine, it really is a vine, and the intricate structure at the center of the stylized star confirms that we’re seeing a member of the milkweed family.

Notice, like so many other flowers,
Those of milkweed also favor fiveness.

In honor of that number, those two lines are brought to you in (trochaic) pentameter, while the lines on the flower are brought to you in the milkvine’s own meter.

© 2012 Steven Schwartzman


Written by Steve Schwartzman

April 16, 2012 at 5:32 AM

18 Responses

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  1. If frogs adorned then these would be their flow’rs
    To fill their days with pleasant greenish hours!

    Marcia Levy

    April 16, 2012 at 7:38 AM

    • Now that’s a response in kind! Call it a greening of poetic imagination.

      Steve Schwartzman

      April 16, 2012 at 7:44 AM

    • By the way, the flowers commonly called buttercups are in the genus Ranunculus, which means ‘little frog.’

      Steve Schwartzman

      April 16, 2012 at 8:00 AM

      • Yes, Ranunculus is called little buttercup, dear little buttercup, though I could never tell why.

        Steve Schwartzman

        April 16, 2012 at 8:06 AM

  2. Extraordinarily elegant, in every respect. The center reminds me of a Maltese cross, despite the “extra” arm. As for the color – I would call that chartreuse, one of the colors of my childhood. Our bathroom was painted a remarkable combination of maroon and chartreuse, and chartreuse dishes were all the rage. It was the 50s, after all.

    I’m so glad you found this, for your pleasure and ours. Rare is one thing. Rare and beautiful is quite another.


    April 16, 2012 at 8:04 AM

    • I can see chartreuse here. Whether I can find something maroon and chartreuse in the months ahead to harmonize with your memories, I don’t know, but I’m certainly glad to have found this rare flower, for my sake and yours.

      Steve Schwartzman

      April 16, 2012 at 10:10 AM

  3. This is such an interesting flower and a super photo also!


    April 16, 2012 at 9:36 AM

  4. trochaic pentameter?? Now I’ve learned something new! Some of my favorite flower bouquets are mostly green!!

    Just A Smidgen

    April 16, 2012 at 2:40 PM

  5. what a lovely flower, there’s always something fascinating about green flowers


    April 16, 2012 at 3:13 PM

  6. The composition of this photograph is particularly striking.

    Susan Scheid

    April 16, 2012 at 10:11 PM

  7. […] you saw a flower of Matelea edwardsensis, a milkweed vine that grows natively in the Edwards Plateau of central Texas and nowhere else in […]

  8. Really a unique and beautiful flower.


    April 17, 2012 at 7:12 AM

  9. […] are two species of Matelea I’m familiar with from central Texas: the relatively rare plateau milkvine and the common pearl milkweed vine (whose flowers are quite uncommon in structure and […]

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