Portraits of Wildflowers

Perspectives on Nature Photography

Dwarf dandelion and two close visitors

with 22 comments

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

Written by Steve Schwartzman

April 19, 2012 at 1:32 PM

22 Responses

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  1. So interesting and beautiful! The ends of the petals are interesting for the pinking-shears effect, and for some of the petals, the singe look. My mind is playing with how the ant might visualize the view because of the scale and the angle that he sees the “terrain”. Not meaning to actually anthropomorphize the ant, but doing it anyway (alert–25-cent word).


    April 19, 2012 at 2:12 PM

    • A good description: “pinking-shears effect.” As for your 25-cent word, I anticipated you and used the term anthropomorphism in the first week of this blog, back on June 6 of last year.

      When it comes to the tiny dark insect, I don’t believe it’s an ant, though I can’t tell what it actually is.

      Steve Schwartzman

      April 19, 2012 at 2:34 PM

      • Looks like several commenters say it’s a wasp. I had overlooked the stinger when I looked at the pic yesterday. As the bug is so teeny, I wonder if the stinger is too short to pierce skin. Do you ever worry about getting stung while you hover over stinger-equipped bugs, aiming for the subject in the viewfinder?


        April 20, 2012 at 7:35 AM

      • No, I don’t worry about getting stung. I often work close to bees, which are so common on the flowers I photograph, and wasps, which are less numerous but still common. The way I look at it is that they’re busy with their work and I’m busy with mine, and we leave one another alone. I’ve only gotten stung once, about three years ago, when I blindly reached into a bush and must have startled something; I never did see what it was. I didn’t get stung badly, and the pain went away pretty quickly. In contrast, as of three days ago, I can attest that chigger season has arrived; those bites keep on itching for days.

        Steve Schwartzman

        April 20, 2012 at 8:14 AM

  2. The dwarf is very different. Maybe I just never really looked at the “regular” ones with which I am familiar. Ortho-Green commercials abound on how to rid oneself of them! I laugh when I see it. There are a few of you guys on here who do appreciate the weed … if gardeners hate it. 🙂

    George Weaver

    April 19, 2012 at 3:00 PM

    • Of course kids all love the conventional dandelion, with its puffballs, but when they become adults and buy houses with lawns they seem to have a change of heart that warms the hearts of the people who sell weed killers.

      Steve Schwartzman

      April 19, 2012 at 3:20 PM

  3. Je n’ai jamais vu de pissenlit comme ça dans mes Pyrénées natales… i’ll take a look ! 😉


    April 19, 2012 at 3:25 PM

    • Dwarf dandelions are native to North America, so I don’t think you’ll find any in the Pyrenees—though species do migrate.

      Steve Schwartzman

      April 19, 2012 at 3:30 PM

  4. I’m thinking it’s a wasp. Most wasps are tiny. I love how so many flowers have the name “dandelion” in them. I love that word.

    Spider Joe

    April 19, 2012 at 6:00 PM

  5. I agree with Spider Joe – I think it’s an ichneumon wasp. There are thousands of them, some as small as 1/8″, and they like flower nectar.

    That accounts for one visitor to this pretty little flower. I looked and looked for the other – until I rolled my eyes and thought, “Ok – you got me!”


    April 19, 2012 at 6:19 PM

    • Thanks for seconding Spider Joe and for letting us know that some of those wasps are as small as what you see in the photograph.

      I wondered if people would realize who the other visitor to the flower was: c’est moi!

      Steve Schwartzman

      April 19, 2012 at 7:35 PM

  6. Lovely fringed petal shapes (which I’ve never seen before).


    April 19, 2012 at 6:33 PM

  7. Love the darkened edges on some of the petals.
    Was this a camera trick or are they shadow colored on the tips? Very lovely for such a small specimen.
    ~ Lynda

    I just visited the USDA site to look this one up, and found that I have one of its *cousins growing in a colony under my big oak out front. They don’t last long, but en masse they are pretty for a few days.

    *Krigia dandelion (L.) Nutt. potato dwarfdandelion)


    April 19, 2012 at 10:38 PM

    • No camera trick, Lynda; the darkened fringes are real. It’s nice that you found a relative right in your yard. Happy new, even if short-lived.

      Steve Schwartzman

      April 20, 2012 at 6:54 AM

  8. It is a lovely dandelion photo….thank you.


    April 19, 2012 at 11:37 PM

  9. This is striking, and I love the mystery insect you included!


    April 20, 2012 at 10:45 AM

  10. I love pictures of flowers with bees, butterflies, and insects on them!

    Russel Ray Photos

    April 25, 2012 at 2:36 PM

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