Portraits of Wildflowers

Perspectives on Nature Photography

Archive for April 19th, 2012

Dwarf dandelion and two close visitors

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Click for greater size and clarity.

And now here’s a closeup of a fully open dwarf dandelion flower head, which was about half an inch across. I photographed it on March 14 in an undeveloped lot at the corner of Braker Ln. and Kramer Ln. in north Austin. While in past years this was a good place to see native plants, in the spring of 2012 the lot was almost totally covered by the invasive Rapistrum rugosum. I walked through much of the property but the dwarf dandelions and a few gauras were the only native flowers I could find to photograph.

While we’re on that subject, I’ll note that the various species of dwarf dandelions are in the genus Krigia, which Shinners and Mahler’s Illustrated Flora of North Central Texas says was named for David Krig or Krieg, who was either German or Hungarian, and who collected botanical specimens in Maryland; he died in 1713. It just so happens that the German word Krieg means ‘war,’ which was the title of a recent post in which I invoked that metaphor to describe the conflict between native species and alien invasives.

© 2012 Steven Schwartzman

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Written by Steve Schwartzman

April 19, 2012 at 1:32 PM

Dwarf dandelion flower head opening

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Dwarf Dandelion Flower Head Opening 1746

UPDATE: Soon after this post was published in 2012, Sue Wiseman alerted me to the fact that the picture originally shown here wasn’t really a dwarf dandelion at all, but Hedypnois cretica, an increasingly common European invasive, referred to descriptively based on its origin and botanical family as a Cretan composite. I’ve replaced that photograph with one I took of an actual dwarf dandelion on a field trip to Bastrop State Park led by botanist Bill Carr on April 27, 2014. There’s nothing like having an expert with you to identify plants.

I suspect that even in areas where these little flowers are common, many people are unaware of dwarf dandelions, which botanists place in the genus Krigia (this one being K. oppositifolia). As John and Gloria Tveten write in Wildflowers of Houston: “While these tiny plants do not attract attention when alone, they frequently form large, showy colonies that blanket sandy fields or roadsides.”

© 2012, 2014 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

April 19, 2012 at 5:24 AM

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