Portraits of Wildflowers

Perspectives on Nature Photography

Archive for April 17th, 2012

An edge-on look at pearl milkweed

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The usual view from above of a flower of the pearl milkweed vine, Matelea reticulata, gives barely a hint of the orange concealed beneath the little pearly covering, nor of the fact that the “pearl” doesn’t have much depth. This photograph, a get-down-on-the-ground edge-on follow-up, reveals those features (no extra charge for all the hyphens). Whether the orange attracts pollinators or serves some other purpose, I don’t know.

If you’re interested in photography as a craft, you’ll find that points 1, 22, and the newly added 23 in About My Techniques are relevant to this image.

© 2012 Steven Schwartzman

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Written by Steve Schwartzman

April 17, 2012 at 1:45 PM

A similar green flower

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Click for greater clarity.

Yesterday you saw a flower of Matelea edwardsensis, a milkweed vine that grows natively in the Edwards Plateau of central Texas and nowhere else in the world. As a follow-up, here are two flowers of its close relative Matelea reticulata. This is a more common species, and one a little more widely distributed in Texas, that not only shares the green reticulation of its genus-mate but also adds the unusual distinction of a mother-of-pearl roof on the top of its tiny central structure. That nacreous covering has led people to use the name pearl milkweed for this vine. I photographed these two pearl milkweed flowers, the larger of which was about two-thirds of an inch across, in a shaded part of Great Hills Park on April 12.

As intriguing as pearl milkweed flowers are, the vine’s leaves have an unpleasant odor that has been described as akin to burned rubber; at times I’ve likened it to not-so-fresh fish. But let’s forget the sense of smell and use our eyes to appreciate the patterns on these little flowers.

For those of you who are interested in photography as a craft, points 1 and the newly added 22 in About My Techniques are relevant to this image.

© 2012 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

April 17, 2012 at 5:43 AM

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