Portraits of Wildflowers

Perspectives on Nature Photography

Yellow on yellow (against blue)

with 10 comments

Click for greater clarity.

During the outing to the southern side of Great Hills Park that brought you the last two pictures (including the one that I think of as white on white), I photographed yet another wildflower, one that’s common in Austin but only now making its first appearance in these pages. It’s buffalo bur, Solanum rostratum, a genus-mate of the silverleaf nightshade that some of you saw last fall. There are people who consider both of these plants to be weeds, but they have intricate flowers with yellow stamens that look like elongated bananas: hardly your typical weed.

As opposed to the fruits of silverleaf nightshade, those of this species are rounded capsules with spikes jutting out of them; you can see parts of two of them in the photograph. The plant’s common name leads us to suppose that the burs used to get caught in the fur of buffalos and carried to new locations. Though the days of the last great herds have been gone for a century and a quarter, buffalo bur has continued to expand its range and is now found in almost all American states and many Canadian provinces, as you can confirm on the USDA map.


Posted on this date last year: a portrait, also from below, but closer and therefore more abstract, of the base of a bluebell flower.

© 2012 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

June 15, 2012 at 6:00 AM

10 Responses

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  1. Quelle jolie fleur et que ta photo est belle. Ce jaune intense sur le ciel bleu, c’est une merveille.


    June 15, 2012 at 7:08 AM

    • Merci, Val. Le jaune si brillant a rendu plus foncé et plus intense le bleu du ciel. Voilà le résultat de mon “accouchement”.

      Steve Schwartzman

      June 15, 2012 at 8:54 AM

  2. That’s very pretty and very nicely photographed!


    June 15, 2012 at 11:52 PM

  3. No question about it – had it not been for your title, I’d never have run over to youtube tonight for a listen to Bobby Vinton’s “Blue on Blue”. Your photo’s better than the song, even though the song was a bit of a hit way back when.

    I like your new practice of adding last year’s post. It’s a nice way to cruise the archives in some sort of systematic way, and it’s probably going to be interesting to compare climate/weather conditions between the two years, too.


    June 17, 2012 at 9:21 PM

    • I can hear the song in my head, and I know it made a lot more money for Bobby Vinton than any photograph of mine ever will for me, but I thank you for your vote of confidence.

      I’ve been trying out the links to posts from a year earlier but I haven’t been consistent. If an earlier image risks stealing the thunder from a current or forthcoming one I won’t do it, but you’re right that the comparisons can be revealing. Hardly anyone saw those early posts from a year ago, so it’s a chance for current readers to discover some things.

      Steve Schwartzman

      June 17, 2012 at 9:31 PM

  4. […] Don’t you love the curving maroon and yellow stamens, which have shapes similar to those of buffalo bur? And how about the red markings at the base of four of the petals? You couldn’t see those […]

  5. […] the picturesquely named snow-on-the-prairie, Euphorbia bicolor. The clustered yellow flowers are buffalo bur, Solanum rostratum. The green plants forming a fringe across the background are broomweed, […]

  6. […] June you saw a picture of Solanum rostratum, known as buffalo bur. The emphasis then was on the bright yellow flowers, but now it’s on the bur in buffalo* bur. Today’s photograph shows the spent remains of […]

  7. […] From the same February 1, 2013, session as last time, here are some spent seed capsules of buffalo bur, Solanum rostratum, the kind of plant that botanists like to describe as “well defended.” If this clearly well defended but also desiccated specimen strikes you as drear rather than dear, see if you can guess (assuming you don’t already know) the color of the flowers that produced these seed capsules. To see whether your guess is correct, click on over to a picture of a buffalo bur when it’s flowering. […]

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